Thursday 22 February 2018

Stiff shot of Jameson helps steady Pernod Ricard as Chinese market struggles

Anna Malmhake, CEO of Pernod Ricard
Anna Malmhake, CEO of Pernod Ricard

Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis

Sales of Jameson whiskey rose 10pc and there was an 8pc increase in volume in the first six months of the fiscal year, according to Pernod Ricard owned Irish Distillers.

"The six-month period to the end of December 2014 was another positive one for Jameson worldwide with the continued global development of Jameson Irish Whiskey," according to Anna Malmhake, chairman and chief executive of the French drinks giant's Irish unit.

Globally, Pernod Ricard is pinning its hopes on the coming new year celebrations in China, its second-largest market, to deliver gradually improving sales this financial year and sustain profit growth. The world's second-largest spirits group after Guinness maker Diageo said yesterday that first-half operating profit stagnated, held back by the late timing of the Chinese New Year and struggling vodka sales in the United States, its top market.

The owner of Absolut vodka and Martell cognac as well as Jameson said it still eyed a rise of between 1pc and 3pc in underlying operating profit for the year ending June 30, 2015.

"My absolute priority is growth and growth in our two key markets, the US and China," Pernod Ricard chairman and ceo Alexandre Ricard said yesterday. Ricard became head of Pernod Ricard at a board meeting on Wednesday.

The move puts the founding family back in charge at a time when growth in China and the US has slowed.

In China, where a government clampdown on extravagant spending has hurt premium spirits demand, sales fell 16pc in the first-half year-on-year.

Overall first-half sales reached €4.621bn, an underlying rise of 1pc, helped by still robust sales momentum in India, Brazil and travel retail. Underlying operating profit was flat at €1.358bn.

This was broadly in line with analysts' expectations.

Irish Independent

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