Pernod-Ricard became the world's #2 spirits and wine company behind Diageo in 2005, following completion of a takeover of larger rival Allied Domecq. It became bigger still three years later with the acquisition of Vin & Sprit, parent group to Absolut vodka and other brands. As a result, it has become a keen challenger to Diageo worldwide, and the local leader in most major international markets except the US. Historically, alcoholic beverages formed only part of Pernod-Ricard's portfolio, which also stretched to fruit processing and general distribution. However the group took a decision in the late 1990s to focus on its core spirits business, virtually doubling in size as a result of the acquisition of part of the Seagram portfolio, and again with the purchase of Allied and Vin & Sprit. Absolut remains the group's top brand with sales worth $2.4bn in 2018, according to Shanken's Impact. It is supported by Ballantine's, Chivas Regal and Jameson Irish whiskey (each worth between $1.6bn and $1.7bn respectively), Martell ($1.2bn), Ricard pastis ($770m) and Havana Club rum ($720m). There is also a collection of non-premium but high-selling Indian whiskies including Royal Stag ($1.8bn) and Imperial Blue ($1.7bn) and a small but powerful wine portfolio that includes Jacob's Creek, Brancott, Campo Viejo, and Mumm and Perrier Jouet champagne. These are accompanied by a large collection of smaller global or regional spirits: Malibu rum, Beefeater gin, The Glenlivet, and many more. All non-alcoholic operations have been sold. The group operates a highly decentralized structure, with brands divided between six brandowner businesses, each responsible for manufacturing and global strategy of their own products, and another six regional distribution and operations units. Revenues hit a record €9.2bn for ye Jun 2019, with net profit of €1.5bn. Patrick Ricard led the group's dramatic expansion for almost 35 years until his untimely death from a heart attack in 2012 at the age of just 67. His nephew Alexandre Ricard was appointed as chairman & CEO in 2015. The Ricard family control around 22% of the group's equity.
Capsule checked 21st February 2019
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Historical profile information for Pernod-Ricard
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Aug 2019: Like its arch-rival Diageo, Pernod-Ricard enjoyed solid performance in its latest financial year, ended June. Revenues rose by more than 5% to a best-ever €9.2bn while profit from continuing operations was up 9%. However a large impairment charge against Brancott and other wines, restructuring of operations in South Korea and an accounting adjustment caused net profit to fall 5% to €1.5bn. Generally, brown spirits once again out-performed white during the year. The group's star brand was Martell cognac, with volumes up by an impressive 18%. Royal Salute also excelled, up 16%, albeit from a low base. Beefeater, Ballantine's, Chivas Regal and Jameson also all did well, up 6% or 7% apiece. However, flagship Absolut remains a worry, with volumes falling by a further 3% worldwide (and by even more in the US). There was a similar decline by traditional French pastis Ricard.
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Feb 2019: Analysts at investment firm Berenberg are suggesting that Pernod-Ricard might make a suitable takeover target for a joint bid from Diageo and LVMH. That follows intense pressure on the French drinks group from activist investor Elliott Management to improve profit margins and reduce the boadroom influence of the Ricard family. Berenberg's comments are seen by many as a touch fanciful - especially by the Ricard family - but could potentially provide a long-anticipated solution to what is currently a separate and slightly uncomfortable joint venture between Diageo and LVMH. Ownership of the latter's Moet Hennessy drinks division has for decades been split between the two groups. A bid by LVMH for Pernod-Ricard could create a single French spirits champion, with Diageo's stake in Moet Hennessy bought out through the transfer of selected Pernod-Ricard assets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Sep 2016: The world's second largest spirits group Pernod-Ricard reported results for the year to June, a few weeks behind arch-rival Diageo. The market remained tough. Net profit soared by 43% to €1.24bn, but the previous year had been dented by a huge impairment against under-performing flagship Absolut. Revenues edged up by 1% to €8.68bn. (Pernod-Ricard trailed Diageo in both revenues and profits for the year). Absolut was still under pressure in the latest year, with volumes down 4% year on year, as was Chivas cognac, but there was strong growth for Irish whiskey Jameson - up 23% in the US to account for almost a quarter of total sales there and by 16% worldwide - and to a lesser extent Ballantine's scotch, the group's second largest brand by volumes. Total volumes for the group's top 14 spirits and champagnes were flat year-on-year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jan 2016: President Obama's final State of the Union speech called on lawmakers to end the embargo on goods produced in Cuba, prompting the US Patent & Trademark Office to recognise for the first time Pernod-Ricard's rights to the Havana Rum name. The Castro government seized ownership of that famed product in the revolution, and now exports Havana Rum globally in a partnership with Pernod-Ricard. Except in the US, where Bacardi lays claim to the brand, which it claims to have acquired from the original owners when they fled Cuba. The latest detente between the US and Cuba is likely to give Pernod-Ricard's Havana Club access to the US for the first time later this year, prompting a furious response from Bacardi.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Sep 2015: Ads of the Week: "Space Glass". Gorgeous and hypnotic new spot from Havas Work Club for Pernod-Ricard's Ballantine's whisky. The ad works beautifully in its own right, but it's underpinned by a rather gimmicky concept about blending a whisky that tastes right in micro-gravity (where normal senses behave a little differently), and then designing the glass to drink it from. Click through at the end to learn more if you really must, but it's little more than a red herring to justify an otherwise excellent ad.
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