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Pernod Ricard returns to growth in fiscal 2021

Absolut vodka owner Pernod Ricard saw organic sales grow by nearly 10% in fiscal 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Pernod Ricard
Sales of Jameson Irish whiskey grew by 15% in fiscal 2021

The French drinks firm’s full-year organic sales reached €8.8 billion (US$10.4bn), an increase of 9.7%. Profits climbed by 18.3% to hit €2.4bn (US$2.9bn). 

The ‘very strong’ results more than fulfil Pernod Ricard’s profit forecast, which it increased earlier this summer. The performance means the business has not only returned to growth after the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on its fiscal 2020, but has also exceeded its 2019 figures.

The company, which produces brands including Jameson Irish whiskey and Beefeater gin, experienced growth in all regions. 

Speaking at a press briefing this morning (1 September), CEO Alexandre Ricard said two markets in particular delivered “record” sales. The Americas showed “broad-based” growth across countries, jumping 14%, while the Asia and the rest of world market grew by 11%, led by China, Korea and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Europe saw 4% growth in fiscal 2021, with declines in Spain, Ireland and travel retail balanced by ‘dynamic rebound’ in the UK, Germany and Eastern Europe. 

“Our business transformation is clearly under way,” Ricard said, pointing to “significant investment” in priority brands and a whopping 63% growth in the firm’s e-commerce channel. 

Brand performance

Pernod Ricard’s Speciality Brands portfolio had an especially strong year, posting 28% growth driven by apéritif Lillet, Aberlour Scotch whisky, Malfy gin, American whiskeys, Avion Tequila and Redbreast Irish whiskey.

The Strategic International Brands stable also showed a ‘very strong rebound’, with growth of 11%. Martell Cognac performed particularly well, with organic sales soaring 24%, while sales of Scotch whisky The Glenlivet grew by 19%.

Sales of Irish whiskey Jameson climbed by 15%. Ricard said Jameson Cold Brew was “the third-largest innovation in the US last year”, and he anticipates further traction from the forthcoming US launch of Jameson Orange

Absolut vodka posted more modest growth, at 5%.

However, not all brands were so fortunate: Beefeater gin sales declined by 5%; blended Scotch Royal Salute dropped by 6%; and Havana Club rum decreased by 4%.

New developments

Several new initiatives accompanied Pernod Ricard’s full-year results. The drinks group announced a “collaborative agreement” with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as a new plan for diversity and inclusion titled Live Without Labels. 

It will also continue to build on its Drink More Water responsible consumption campaign, launched in July.

In addition, the firm revealed it has taken a minority stake in Sovereign Brands, owner of Bumbu rum.

Pernod Ricard predicts its strong performance will continue in the coming fiscal year.

“We expect this good sales momentum to continue in FY22 with, in particular, a very dynamic Q1,” Ricard said. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to praise the exceptional commitment of our teams during this difficult time and express my support to those who have been or continue to be impacted by this pandemic.

“We will stay the strategic course, accelerating our digital transformation and our ambitious Sustainability & Responsibility roadmap. Thanks to our solid fundamentals, our teams and our brand portfolio, we are emerging from this crisis stronger.”

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