The balance of the power in the UK cognac market is shifting. The cognac market grew 4.2% (volume) last year [ACNielsen]. Most of this was generated by grocery multiples with other trade channels in decline. Martell, soon to be acquired by Pernod Ricard, but currently owned and distributed by Seagram, is the brand leader. But it is being challenged by Courvoisier, owned by Allied Domecq. AD has been aggressively promoting its brand and has been concentrating on the major grocers. It reported that in the 12 months to January 27 it increased its volume sales in the multiples by 15.1% and took a 36.6% volume share of the category. Much of this effort was concentrated pre Christmas when its sales volumes were up 24% compared with the same eight weeks in 1999. It said this made it the number one cognac in the multiples over that period. Stephanie Rutherford, Cognac director at AD, said: "Key to our success in the multiples was the integrated nature of our marketing and promotional activity. This included our VAT free offer on 800 Adshel sites outside key grocery retailers nationwide. "This was supported by our biggest ever direct mail campaign, which went to 250,000 consumers. Early evaluation of this suggests it played a major role in driving repeat purchase and trading up from French grape brandy." She said the ACNielsen Scantrack data also showed that Courvoisier's value share increased by 13.6% in the 12 month period, broadly in line with its volume gains. "This puts paid to the claim that volume gains are only achieved at the expense of value and profitability." Seagram said Martell is still the number one cognac in both on and off-trades. Senior brand manager Jeanette Edwards said: "We expect to see temporary month-by-month movement in percentages in response to promotional activity from individual brands. We still remain the number one cognac with a 20% lead in the off-trade." She said Martell is supported by a national advertising campaign, sponsorship of the Grand National, and brand building initiatives. {{DRINKS }}