Here at House of Coco, we’ve been advocating #GirlBosses from around the globe ever since our launch. But recently we’ve been thinking, what about our successful male counterparts? From men who encourage female empowerment, to our brothers working in luxury industries, we now want to champion successful individuals from both genders. That’s why our new series #BossBoys is taking the spotlight throughout March, with our writer Jenna at the helm. As Jenna is known for her love of Champagne and luxury hospitality, we selected the perfect #BossBoy to kick things off, Julien Lonneux. Julien is Vranken Pommery UK’s CEO, a man who is taking the Champagne industry by storm…
JC: I was very excited to interview you Julien, as I actually worked in a Champagne bar for several years! My favourite blend of Champagne is definitely Blanc De Blanc – what’s yours?
JL: You have great taste! I am also a huge fan of Blanc de Blancs and especially vintages in Blanc de Blancs. The Chardonnay trend is booming all over the world and has arrived on a bigger scale in Champagne these last years.This style is the perfect balance between freshness, acidity, elegance, structure, and even richness.
JC: You’ve got me wanting to pop a bottle now! Can you tell us more about your time as International Development Director before becoming the UK CEO?
JL: It was definitely a time of travel and discoveries, in addition to creating business opportunities. I was extremely lucky to travel to various countries across the globe, facing huge cultural differences with one objective: Development. The development of Champagne, of our Vranken-Pommery Monopole global activities and of course, of our beloved brand Pommery.
As a group, we are constantly looking for new opportunities in terms of Brand development, but also in activities development. The recent creation of our sparkling wines range (with new creations in California, Hampshire and Camargue in the South of France) is a pure reflection of the dynamism of our Group.
JC: Some of #TeamCoco are visiting California next week, so we’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for some of your newest creations! Looking back, what ignited your passion for Champagne?
JL: The magic of the bubbles and the joy you can observe on people’s faces when enjoying a glass of Champagne. Champagne is one of the most emotional products and that is what makes it so special. Alongside the product, my journey in the Champagne world started with the meeting of an amazing man and character, Paul-François Vranken, President and Founder of Vranken-Pommery Monopole. His passion and impressive continuous research for improvement gave me the immediate desire to join the adventure and after 5 years of close work together, I am still excited about the Group and our common future.
JC: With the rise of Prosecco and Lambrusco from our Italian counterparts, do you feel there will always be a place in British hearts for Champagne?
JL: I am certain Champagne will conserve a special place in British hearts. The rise of other sparkling wines is a great opportunity for the category in general. Champagne, being the most qualitative sparkling wine of the world, will always attract the consumers looking for quality and is the natural step-up for lovers of bubbles when they want to experience the best. Furthermore, the British also have a special relationship with the Champagne region, as they are the most regular (and most appreciated) visitors.
JC: Who would be your dream brand ambassador for Pommery?
JL: Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge, she is such a symbol of British elegance. Kate would be a great ambassador for us.
JC: What a perfect choice! Kate Middleton is a true style icon. Bringing the focus back to you, can you tell us about a recent ‘Boss’ moment?
JL: I find the idea of “Boss moments” a little troubling! I believe in team spirit and truly believe that to generate the best results for a company you must value your team. A smart “Boss moment” for me is the ability to step back, appreciate the individuals in your team and to be able to congratulate efforts – be it an individual or a team one. Criticising someone is easy but being able to take the time to recognise someone’s work is what makes a “Boss” different from the norm, and certainly more successful.
JC: Apart from managing a team, what has been the hardest part of working in the drinks business?
JL: The lack of water probably?
JC: Haha, I bet you are 99% Champagne some days! When it’s not a day of Champagne tasting, what’s in the pipeline for you and Pommery in 2019?
JL: We have so many exciting things in the pipeline, but if I had to choose a few I would say the development of our English sparkling wine, Louis Pommery England. This is our new adventure. We are currently planting a 40ha vineyard in Hampshire. This process of creating a new brand, Estate and story is one that really excites me. This is the type of work that I really get inspired by. With regards to Champagne Pommery, we will continue the redeployment of the Brand here in the UK through some really exciting partnerships to reveal over the next few months. We will also be continuing with the launch of our new cuvee, Pommery Blanc de Blancs. It has been a great success so far and we look forward to a very bright and bubbly future for Pommery.
To find out more about Pommery Champagne visit http://www.champagnepommery.com/