Scotch whisky giant Chivas Brothers cheers topping-up of annual sales

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of French spirits major Pernod Ricard, has toasted a “steady” return to pre-Covid momentum, and announced that it is targeting net-zero distillation by 2026.

The firm, whose brands include Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet, cheered a 6 per cent jump in total organic sales in the year ending June 2021.

It said the performance was topped up by a robust performance in domestic markets (excluding travel retail), which were up 16 per cent, and overtaking pre-pandemic levels.

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The whisky-producer, which last year unveiled its new Glasgow headquarters on Blythswood Square having moved from its historic base in Paisley, added that the pandemic’s continued impact on global travel retail was offset by a double-digit performance in domestic regions across its four strategic brands.

The firm's Glentauchers Distillery has been trying out eco-friendly mechanical vapour recompression fan technology. Picture: contributed.

These comprise Chivas, which was up 13 per cent, Ballantine’s up 12 per cent, The Glenlivet up 26 per cent, and Royal Salute up 32 per cent.

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Chivas Brothers added that sales were “particularly” strong in Asian markets where lockdown restrictions have been lifted or eased, with China registering growth of 47 per cent, for example.

The firm also hailed a further resilient performance in Eastern European and Latin American markets, with Brazil growing beyond pre-Covid levels, up 60 per cent. It added that the strength of The Glenlivet brand in the US was a key driver of 19 per cent sales growth in North America, despite the impact of Covid restrictions, and the tariffs on single malt that were in effect for most of the financial year.

Chivas Brothers' new chairman and CEO Jean-Etienne Gourgues, who joined in July from Pernod Ricard China. Picture: contributed.

The business also introduced its new chairman and chief executive Jean-Etienne Gourgues, who joined in July from Pernod Ricard China, where he served as MD. He succeeds Jean-Christophe Coutures, who held the post for three years.

Mr Gourgues said: “It’s clear from these results that we are making a steady return to our pre-Covid momentum, already exceeding this in domestic markets. The breadth of our portfolio is our greatest asset, and we have continued to invest in innovation and creative campaigns despite the challenging year.

Tariffs

“The suspension of US tariffs on single malt Scotch will certainly boost the industry’s recovery. However, we maintain that a cut in spirits duty should be included in the next UK Budget, and Scotch should be prioritised in ongoing trade negotiations – with a particular focus on reducing the 150 per cent tariff on Scotch exports to India.”

He also unveiled the 2026 net-zero target, saying that to meet this the organisation will need to drive super-low-energy distillation as a priority and then decarbonise any residual carbon emissions to reach net zero.

Chivas said a major step towards this target was announced at Speyside’s Glentauchers – a major single malt component of Ballantine’s – with a “Scotch industry first”, using high-efficiency mechanical vapour recompression (MVR) fan technology for pot still distillation. The ambition – following full Glentauchers implementation – is to roll out MVR across all viable sites by 2026.

Mr Gourgues also announced that Braeval – a core single malt component of Chivas, and also located in Speyside – as Chivas Brothers’ first zero-direct carbon distillery, following a switch to a rapeseed residue based bio-fuel. The change is expected to save 6,671 tonnes of carbon a year at Braeval and the bio-oil will next be introduced to Glentauchers.

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