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Beer brands not prerequisite for spirits success in Africa

Building a presence for international spirits brands in the fast-growing African market is possible without a global beer portfolio, according to Pernod Ricard.

Guinness is Diageo’s leading drinks brand in Africa

Speaking at this morning’s Pernod press conference in London, Gilles Bogaert, managing director for finance at the company, dismissed the suggestion it lagged Diageo’s success in Africa because the French group lacked any beer brands.

“There is no disadvantage in not having a beer portfolio,” he stated, before also commenting, “The synergies between beer and spirits are not at all obvious.”

However, he spoke of the need for partnerships with distributors who sell a range of products, from beer to soft drinks, while he stressed Pernod’s intention to develop its sales and distribution in Africa.

“It is an emerging continent for sure, and we see very good potential for spirits in the medium to long term,” he said. “We are in the process of opening affiliates in five countries,” he explained, mentioning Nigeria, Kenya and Angola.

Referring to the latter, he spoke of a “Riviera where you can start selling high priced products.”

Echoing his views, Christian Porta, CEO of Pernod’s Chivas Brothers said: “You can be successful in Africa without a beer portfolio.”

Continuing, he recorded spirits sales which have gone from nothing to 200,000 cases in Angola, due to demand for Pernod’s Passport blended Scotch as well as Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal whiskies.

Meanwhile, speaking more generally about Pernod’s global sales, Porta said the group was “close to 50:50” in terms of a balance between sales in emerging and mature markets.

He added that the proportion of sales in emerging economies has risen from 40% of net sales in 2009 to 47% in this financial year.

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