A rebound in Pernod Ricard’s key market, the United States, and solid performances from brands including The Glenlivet malt whisky and Martell cognac have seen the spirits giant lift profits and sales.
Pernod Ricard, owner of Chivas Bros, Scotland’s second largest whisky company, said the bounceback had been “notably driven” by the US, where sales in the first half grew 3 per cent.
That compared with US sales treading water at the full-year stage last summer. Sales in “Asia/rest of the world” lifted 5 per cent, but it was a mixed picture in the breakdown.
There was double-digit growth in India – a market with vast potential for the spirits industry – Africa, the Middle East and Australia.
But Pernod Ricard said continuing headwinds in the Chinese market saw sales fall, and there were also “difficulties” in Korea and Travel Retail Asia.
Sales in the mature spirits market of Europe edged up 1 per cent, which the company said was driven by Spain and the UK, but France and Russia saw declines.
Overall group sales in the six months to end-December rose 3 per cent to €4.96 billion (£3.9bn), with the momentum freshening in the second quarter when sales climbed 4 per cent to €2.73bn.
Pernod Ricard’s interim profits increased 3 per cent to €1.44bn (£1.13bn), while the pressure on profit margins eased, down 0.25 per cent compared with a fall of more than 1 per cent at the full-year stage.
Alexandre Ricard, chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard, said: “Our half-year results are solid, delivering a continued improvement in sales.”
Among individual brands, The Glenlivet grew sales 7 per cent, while Jameson Irish whiskey sales rose 11 per cent. Chivas Regal was down 2 per cent.
Ballantine’s sales marked time, while Absolut vodka was down 3 per cent. Beefeater gin revenues rose 5 per cent, and Martell cognac was ahead
7 per cent.
Ricard said that despite the “still contrasted macroeconomic environment” the group expected an improved business performance over the full year.