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Pernod to ‘drive penetration’ of whisky in China with new distillery

French firm Pernod Ricard is seeking to “develop and expand the whisky category” in China as it breaks ground on the country’s “first” malt whisky distillery.

Pernod Ricard has broken ground on the Emeishan Malt Whisky Distillery in China

Last week, the French group pledged a US$150 million investment to build Emeishan Malt Whisky Distillery – which is based in the city of Emeishan in China’s Sichuan province. The 13-hectare site will incorporate an “innovative approach to malt whisky-making”.

“Our objective is to develop and expand the whisky category in China,” said Chivas Brothers CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures, during a media briefing in London for Pernod Ricard’s fiscal 2019.

“Having local whisky developed in China of the best possible quality will help in driving the penetration of whisky among the affluent middle class in China.

“So our job as a company is to drive the whisky category growth, we don’t foresee any cannabilisation and we do believe that local whisky in China, alongside Scotch and Irish, will play a big part in driving the category growth in China.”

When it comes to the group’s Scotch business, Coutures said the category “is accelerating” with all brands in growth during Pernod Ricard’s fiscal 2019.

Strategic international Scotch brands – Chivas, Ballantine’s, The Glenlivet and Royal Salute – recorded 7% net sales growth. Innovation accounted for 26% of the growth – the largest increase in the last five years.

Coutures said: “We do foresee that emerging markets are key growth drivers to the success of Scotch to date.”

The firm will also increase its investment in Scotch facility upgrades by 1.4% over the next three years.

“We are transforming our production facilities in terms of distillation by modernising and increasing capacity at Glenlivet, Scapa and Aberlour,” Coutures continued.

Pernod is also “step-changing experiences” for its visitors centres at The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside and Strathisla distillery in the Scottish Highlands.

The £50m (US$61m) Dumbarton bottling facility is also “on track” to be fully operational by spring 2020.

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