Chivas whisky owner Pernod Ricard expecting 'continued uncertainty and volatility' amid Covid woes

The owner of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies expects “continued uncertainty and volatility” next year after taking a €1 billion (£890 million) hit over the past financial year.

Pernod Ricard is the French spirits giant that owns Chivas Brothers, one of the biggest producers of whisky in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin
Pernod Ricard is the French spirits giant that owns Chivas Brothers, one of the biggest producers of whisky in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

French spirits giant Pernod Ricard, whose other brands include Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, has been hit hard by the shutdown of bars and restaurants in most of its key markets due to the Covid pandemic.

Profit from recurring operations fell 13.7 per cent on an organic basis to €2.26bn in the year to 30 June, though this was a stronger outcome than the company’s July revised guidance for a 15 per cent decline. Over the period, global sales fell 9.5 per cent to some €8.45bn.

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The firm took a €1bn impairment charge during the year due to Covid-19 and mostly related to Absolut vodka.

Key categories were impacted by the pandemic, the group noted, though its specialty brands category performed well, underpinned by Martell, Chivas Regal, Absolut and Ballantine’s.

Chairman and chief executive Alexandre Ricard told investors: “For [financial year 2021], Pernod Ricard expects continued uncertainty and volatility, in particular relating to sanitary conditions and their impact on social gatherings, as well as challenging economic conditions.

“We anticipate a prolonged downturn in travel retail but resilience of the off-trade in the US and Europe and sequential improvement in China, India and the on-trade globally.”

“We will harness our agility to adjust fast to capture new opportunities. Thanks to our solid fundamentals, our teams and our brand portfolio, I am confident that Pernod will emerge from this crisis stronger.”

Jean-Christophe Coutures, chairman and chief executive of Scotch whisky business Chivas Brothers, said: “Our business and brands have responded with agility and resilience in the face of unprecedented market conditions, in many instances outperforming the category.

“Strong performances in key regions such as North America and Eastern Europe, as well as in domestic markets with fewer social restrictions such as Taiwan and Korea, have helped offset the heavily-impacted global travel retail channel.

“We remain confident in the strength of our portfolio and the Scotch category as a whole, especially in its ability to withstand and overcome external challenges.”

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