Whisky giant Pernod Ricard hopeful of full-year sales growth despite Covid hangover

Chivas owner Pernod Ricard is forecasting some sales growth for the full year despite the ongoing struggles of the travel retail market amid the pandemic.

French spirits giant Pernod Ricard has brands including Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac. Picture: John Devlin

The owner of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies said sales for the first half suffered an organic decline of 3.9 per cent, compared with the previous year, as it was also impacted by unfavourable foreign exchange rates.

Sales excluding travel retail nudged up 1 per cent with China up 13 per cent and the US gaining 5 per cent.

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Europe saw a 5 per cent decline as strong growth in Germany, the UK, Russia and Poland was more than offset by the Covid impact in Spain, France, Ireland and the travel retail sector as countries locked down borders.

Other brands owned by the French spirits giant include Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac.

Alexandre Ricard, chairman and chief executive of Pernod, which ranks as the world’s second-biggest spirits group behind Diageo, said: “Despite an uncertain and volatile environment, with disruption in the on-trade and a prolonged downturn in travel retail, we anticipate organic sales growth for full-year FY21, thanks in particular to our dynamic performance in domestic must-win markets USA, China and India.

“We will continue to implement our strategy, in particular accelerating our digital transformation, while dynamically managing resources. Thanks to our solid fundamentals, our teams and our brand portfolio, I am confident that Pernod Ricard will emerge from this crisis stronger.

“I would like to take this opportunity to praise our teams, whose engagement and performance are exemplary in these very challenging times, and to express our support to our on-trade and travel retail partners who continue to be impacted by the pandemic.”

Last month, Johnnie Walker and Haig Club owner Diageo pointed to “encouraging” signs as sales rebounded in key global markets where Covid restrictions have eased or been less onerous.

While the firm reported net sales were down 4.5 per cent to £6.9 billion, organic net sales nudged up 1 per cent, despite a “significant” impact from the group’s travel retail arm as countries limited cross-border movement, and on-trade restrictions.

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