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Despite its proximity to Hong Kong, I hadn’t crossed over the border to Shenzhen in some 20 years. That all changed this week and I’m certain it won’t be nearly as long till my next visit as so many businesses I know have set up shop in this extraordinarily vibrant metropolis, China’s third-most populous city after Shanghai and Beijing.
One of those businesses, and the reason for my visit, is Duc de Fugue, the Cognac house owned by Chinese entrepreneur Roger Wang. Readers may recall an earlier Blog in which I described the unlikely story of how, a decade or so ago, Roger – a highly successful real estate investor and bon vivant – had visited Bordeaux with his eyes set on buying a winery.
As I noted, he did indeed make an acquisition but it was another famed French drinks category that won both his heart and his investment. Cognac.
Duc de Fugue dates back to 1789 when its first Cognacs were distilled from wines sourced from the famed region’s Grande Champagne cru. It remained in family hands for many years, renowned for producing Cognacs for other houses rather than its own brand.
All that changed when Roger purchased the business in 2013, determined to elevate Duc de Fugue Cognac as a brand in its own right, fit to rub shoulders with the great houses of the industry such as Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin, Camus and Courvoisier.
This week I caught up on progress since our last encounter in July 2023. Roger and Senior Vice President Shirley Wei are understandably proud of how Duc de Fugue has developed, particularly in the duty free channel.
The brand is selling strongly, across several expressions, with numerous duty free retailers, including an ever-growing presence with China Duty Free Group. I noted Duc De Fugue on my last visit through Duty Zero by cdf at Hong Kong International Airport, and it is also proving popular with Avolta at the global giant’s Hong Kong Duty Free cross-border stores.
Roger Wang is too much of a serial entrepreneur to stop with his Cognac brand. Look out for his exciting next move later this year. I won’t give the game away here but I predict he will have another big hit on his hands.
After our meeting I had the privilege of attending a private dinner in Shenzhen at the home of one of Roger’s closest friends. It was a lovely evening featuring a superb multi-course dinner. Accompanied on each course by Duc de Fugue Cognac. On numerous occasions we toasted to good health. Which is exactly what Duc de Fugue is experiencing.