Whisky giant toasts market-beating sales but outlook clouded by Covid and conflict

Chivas Brothers owner Pernod Ricard, the global drinks major that ranks as Scotland’s second largest whisky producer, has toasted a 20 per cent hike in sales but warned of tougher conditions ahead.

The French group, whose brands include Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, said strong demand in its key US, Chinese and European markets drove the jump in its third-quarter organic sales, easily beating analysts’ forecasts.

However, the firm expects cooler sales in the fourth quarter of its financial year due to fresh Covid disruptions and lockdowns in China, gradual normalisation in US business and the Ukraine conflict.

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Pernod - the world’s second-biggest spirits group after Johnnie Walker-owner Diageo - reported sales of just under €2.45 billion (£2.05bn) in the three months to the end of March, its third quarter, a rise of 20 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The group hailed an excellent performance for its “strategic international brands”, driven by Jameson, Martell, Chivas Regal, Absolut, Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet single malt.

Chairman and chief executive Alexandre Ricard said: “Our [third quarter] was very strong and continues the broad-based performance we enjoyed in the first half, with all our regions and must-win markets showing very strong growth.

“The global environment remains volatile with an increasingly challenging and inflationary context. We expect a softer Q4 impacted by Covid disruptions in China, phasing normalisation in the US and conflict in Ukraine.

“Overall we expect for [the full year] a strong diversified sales momentum across the regions due to on-trade rebound, off-trade resilience and a continuing recovery in travel retail.”

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