Britain's champagne import crown slips as Brexit hits

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By Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) – Britain is set to lose its ranking as the world’s biggest importer of champagne, a French industry lobby said, citing the impact of a weaker pound since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Sales to Britain are expected to fall by 10 percent this year, the boss of the Union of Champagne Houses (UMC) said.

There was a 9 percent drop in volume in 2016 to 31.2 million bottles, according to the CIVC industry association.

“With a slowing economy in Britain, people are less inclined to spend on luxury products,” UMC Chairman Jean-Marie Barillere said in an interview this week.

The United States is likely to take top spot in volume and already ranks number one by value, he said.

The British pound has lost 14 percent of its value against the euro and 10 percent against the U.S. dollar since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

UMC represents champagne brands including Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart, owned by the world’s biggest luxury group, LVMH<LVMH.PA>.

(Reporting by Pascale Denis; writing by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jason Neely)

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