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Pernod Ricard defends Korea licence amid controversy

Pernod Ricard’s Korean operation faces “extremely serious consequences” if its business licence is cancelled after the group unintentionally breached a temporary suspension earlier this year.

A permanent licence cancellation in Korea would be a “disproportionate” punishment, according to Pernod Ricard

The French drinks group called the possibility of a permanent licence cancellation by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety a “disproportionate” punishment.

The threat comes after market company Pernod Ricard Korea Imperial (PRKI) violated its three-day licence suspension in March, which was enforced after a fragment of broken glass was discovered in one of its Imperial blended Scotch whisky bottles, according to The Korea Herald.

However, in a statement to The Spirits Business, the group said a subcontractor of its customs agent submitted an application for a food inspection during the suspension period, without knowing of the ban.

A Pernod Ricard spokesperson said: “PRKI deeply regrets the application submitted by the subcontractor of its customs agent, who was not made aware of the temporary suspension of the licence. However, PRKI emphasises that this error did not have any consequences nor did it create any risk for the health or safety of Korean consumers.”

The group has hit out at the possibility of a permanent licence cancellation in the country, which has not yet been enforced.

The spokesperson continued: “While PRKI would be ready to take responsibility for errors and incur punishment for its actions in accordance to Korean laws and regulations, PRKI is worried that the decision of a permanent licence cancellation is disproportionate as it would have extremely serious consequences on its operations.”

In its full-year financial results for 2017, Pernod Ricard described Korea as a “very difficult market” after sales fell 14%. However, the group expects a “better performance” in FY18 following the implementation of a new portfolio strategy and business organisation.

Its Imperial blend is the leading Scotch whisky brand in South Korea.

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