Glenlivet owner Pernod Ricard cheers solid growth from top Scotch brands

The Chivas owner is the second biggest spirits producer globally. Picture: John Devlin
The Chivas owner is the second biggest spirits producer globally. Picture: John Devlin
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Spirits giant Pernod Ricard, which owns Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, has reported “good growth” for its Scotch portfolio despite challenges in several markets.

Releasing its latest interim results, the French group singled out the “dynamic performance” of several strategic brands including The Glenlivet and Ballantine’s whiskies.

As a category, Scotch sales were up 4 per cent. There was a 2 per cent drop for Chivas, with strong growth in Eastern Europe offset by declines in China.

The Glenlivet enjoyed growth of 15 per cent, underpinned by strong performances in the US, China, Russia, India, Taiwan and Japan. Ballantine’s notched up a 5 per cent gain in sales, with double-digit growth in Eastern Europe, Brazil and India dampened by a weaker showing in Japan. Royal Salute was up 17 per cent, driven by “excellent” growth in Asia.

Overall, Pernod’s group sales for the half-year totalled just over €5.47 billion (£4.6bn) with organic growth of 2.7 per cent and reported growth of 5.6 per cent, with a favourable currency impact linked to the US dollar and emerging market currency appreciation versus the euro.

The group – the world’s second biggest spirits producer, behind Johnnie Walker maker Diageo – said it had delivered “solid results in a challenging environment”, with broad-based growth. It also highlighted strong performances at Jameson, Martell, Malibu and Beefeater.

Resilience

Chairman and chief executive Alexandre Ricard said: “[The first half] demonstrated solid growth and resilience of our business model.

“Looking to H2, the environment remains particularly uncertain from a geopolitical standpoint, with the additional pressure related to the [coronavirus] outbreak. While we cannot currently predict the duration and extent of the impact, we remain confident in our strategy.

“Assuming a severe impact of [the virus], mainly on Q3, we are at this stage providing a guidance of organic growth in profit from recurring operations for full-year of 2 per cent to 4 per cent and will continue to closely monitor our environment.”

Last month, Diageo reported a “softening to flat” performance for its Scotch division and warned that it is not immune to “ongoing uncertainty in the global trade environment”.

The group said its single malts portfolio, Buchanan’s and Johnnie Walker reserve grew in the period but was offset by Johnnie Walker Black Label and Johnnie Walker Red Label which softened globally.

Ewan Andrew, president of global supply chain and procurement at Diageo, said the group benefited from a “broad-based portfolio” and pointed to the high volumes of blended Scotch, such as Johnnie Walker, sold into the US market - unaffected by the recent tariff.

He highlighted investment in the Scotch whisky business, including the Johnnie Walker Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, whose opening remains “on track”.

READ MORE: Whisky giant Diageo plays down tariff impact but half-year Scotch sales turn flat