Taittinger Heiress Tells Of Her Fight To Keep The Family Firm

By Laura Chesters
Daily Mail, London.

Divorcing the father of two of your children and marrying again is not usually used as an analogy to describe a family-run business but Vitalie Taittinger, heiress of the champagne house Taittinger, is not a traditional woman.

As the face of the French brand’s ads, some could be forgiven for thinking she is just a stunningly beautiful and rich woman enjoying parties at the expense of the company.

But over lunch on a quick break from the hectic Salon de la Revue du vin de France — the winemakers’ trade show — in Paris’s old stock exchange, Taittinger is fielding business calls while explaining how she balances life as a working mother of three children. Her youngest daughter, from her second marriage, is 18 months old.

As artistic and marketing director she is in charge of growing the Taittinger brand and ensuring it can compete with all the other big names in the business.

The Taittinger family previously owned an empire that covered everything from glass-making to hotels. It has been involved with champagne since 1931 when Vitalie’s great-grandfather bought an estate which had been making champagne since 1734 and gave it his family name. With a focus on art and design, Vitalie had no thought while growing up that she would work in the family firm which had been run by her uncle.

But, shockingly, nine years ago the sprawling family empire was sold off to US investor Starwood Capital and broken up after the extended family could not agree on its future.

The sale gave observers the impression that the family was a squabbling nest of money grabbers. But her father, Pierre-Emmanuel, had never wanted to lose the treasured champagne company. The hotels and other parts of the larger business were separated and bought by different owners but he raised cash from family members and investors and eventually bid to buy back the champagne house — at a lot more than it was sold for. After securing the champagne brand and business for a reported pounds sterling 460m he set about relaunching it.

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