Whisky and champagne help fuel Pernod Ricard profits

The Chivas Brothers bottling facility in Paisley. Picture: John DevlinThe Chivas Brothers bottling facility in Paisley. Picture: John Devlin
The Chivas Brothers bottling facility in Paisley. Picture: John Devlin

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Pernod Ricard, Scotland's second-biggest Scotch whisky company, raised a glass yesterday to sharply improved annual profits and an edging up in global revenues.

The Chivas Brothers owner said the improvement was mainly driven by the US and Spain, while there were strong performances from Jameson Irish whisky, Perrier-Jouet champagne and Ballantine’s Scotch.

Sales rose 1 per cent to €8.68 billion (£7.31bn), while profit jumped to €1.24bn (£1.04bn), from €861m a year earlier. There was an acceleration of growth for Pernod Ricard in the Americas, with sales up 4 per cent in the year to end-June, versus plus 2 per cent in the previous year.

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Pernod said this recovery was “notably driven” by the US, where revenues lifted 4 per cent versus a stable performance in the previous year.

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Asia and the rest of world saw growth of 1 per cent, largely due to double-digit growth in India and Africa and the Middle East, but there were continuing difficulties in China – with revenues down 9 per cent as the government clampdown on expensive gift-giving continues. Korea and Travel Retail also suffered declines.

European revenues were up 1 per cent, with Spain the driving force, but with growth in most markets.

Alexandre Ricard, Pernod’s chairman and chief executive, labelled the latest financial year “solid and encouraging”, delivering a profit from continuing operations in line with guidance “while maintaining investment and implementing significant initiatives to deliver our medium-term strategy and objectives”.

On the outlook, the company said it expected to “continue improving our business performance” in the current financial year compared to financial year 2016.

Among individual brands, Jameson saw sales growth of 16 per cent and volume growth of 12 per cent, while Perrier-Jouet’s revenues were up 9 per cent and volumes up 7 per cent.

Ballantine’s saw its sales rise 3 per cent, with volumes 5 per cent ahead. Less positively, Chivas Regal whisky and Absolut vodka sales both slipped 4 per cent.

Pernod said that against the backdrop of the improving performance, it was guiding towards underlying profit growth in the current financial year of between 2 per cent and 4 per cent.

One analyst commented: “These look very sound figures in what still is not the best macro-economic trading environment.”

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