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Irish Distillers boss eyes global whiskey crown


Confident: Irish Distillers CEO Conor McQuaid is targeting further expansion

Confident: Irish Distillers CEO Conor McQuaid is targeting further expansion

Confident: Irish Distillers CEO Conor McQuaid is targeting further expansion

Sales of Jameson whiskey could almost double to nearly 14 million cases a year within the next decade, confirming its position as one of the world's leading spirit brands, according to Irish Distillers CEO Conor McQuaid.

"It's a long way from where we would see it topping out," he told the Irish Independent of Jameson's current position, as Irish Distillers parent Pernod Ricard posted interim results yesterday.

He also said that the longer-term aspiration is that Jameson could become the world's biggest-selling whiskey brand in the future. At the moment, it is already a major whiskey brand, beaten only by the likes of Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam.

"I don't think it's something we could aspire to in the next 10 years, but beyond that, our ambitions would certainly be there," he said.

"The depth and breadth of our portfolio in the marketplace, as well as the other Irish whiskey brands that are coming on stream, will give us a tailwind that will allow us to catapult ourselves further up that list."

Sales of Jameson, which is one of Pernod Ricard's 13 strategic international brands alongside others such as Martell and Absolut, breached the eight million case mark for the first time ever during the 2019 calendar year.

"I aspire to perhaps not quite double [sales of Jameson] within the next 10 years, but certainly there would be huge ambitions," said Mr McQuaid.

"I don't think we're even close to the top of the scale of the opportunity," he added. "If we look at the market profile, we have a strong presence and success in the US, and great work being done across western Europe. The real challenge for us now is to go into those non-traditional Irish whiskey consuming parts of the world.

"We're getting great traction across Africa, and there are the green shoots of genuine growth in Asia. Latam [Latin America] is a bit more of a difficulty, but there's still huge headroom for us."

Pernod Ricard's results yesterday showed that last December saw Jameson sell 940,000 cases, making it the biggest ever sales month for the whiskey.

In emerging markets, Jameson sales were up 37pc in the six months to the end of December.

In China, sales were 76pc higher. Mr McQuaid said cracking the Chinese market would be a major coup for Jameson. Its sales growth there has so far been off a small base.

"We have a very clear strategy that's worked in the traditional western markets and even in Africa, but it's a very different context in Asia," he said.

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