Driven on by what the company called a "remarkable start of year" for its Asia/ Rest of World business, Pernod Ricard today announced that its first quarter wine and spirit net sales had increase 7% over the same period as last year to €753m.

Pernod Ricard Group reported 2005 1st quarter consolidated net sales of €765m, compared to € 726m for the same period last year. Non-strategic activity sales now only account for 1.5% of group net sales following the disposal of CFPO and Marmande.

This growth resulted from organic growth of 6.4% (excluding bulk net sales); significant bulk spirits net sales (up 2.0%) and a weak forex impact (- € 7.8m or -1.1%).

The company hailed the continuing premiumisation of its brand portfolio with its12 key brands posting 3% volume growth and 9% value growth.

"This strong progression by premium brands explains the 6% favourable price/mix effect on our sales: thus, Chivas Regal progressed by 18%, while Martell and Jameson rose by 10% at the same time. In addition, the remarkable performances of Jacob's Creek (+16%), Havana Club (+11%) and Ramazzotti (+31%) should also be highlighted," a statement said.  

In Asia and the Rest of the World, the company benefited from the Chinese New Year for Chivas and Martell.
"China has become the most important market for the Chivas Regal brand, while Martell Cordon Bleu confirmed its superb dynamic performance (volumes +37%) in this region. India with Royal Stag (+36%) and Thailand with 100 Pipers (+50%) also contributed to the strong growth in this region, with the only exceptions being Japan and more recently Taiwan, both of which experienced difficult market conditions," the results statement said.
However, there was a contrasting situation in the Americas where the company saw organic sales fall 0.6%.

Organic growth in the United States amounted to -1.8%. Seagram's Gin volumes were significantly down (-18%).

In South America, sales continued on the same very favourable trend as observed in 2004, the company.

Europe experienced a sustained growth in sales in the period. The UK, with Jacob's Creek (+45%), Germany with Ramazzotti and Havana Club, and Eastern Europe with Chivas all achieved good growth, partly explained by technical impacts (increased Ramazzotti sales in Germany and an increase in excise taxes in Greece).  Both the Irish and Italian markets experienced a difficult quarter, however.

In France, the aniseeds market remained very poor.  Ricard and Pastis 51 experienced significant reversals in fortune, which the company said were accentuated by conflicts with certain distributors. However, in a market that overall remains difficult for Pernod Ricard, Havana Club rum (+12%) and Zubrowka (+31%) and Wyborowa (+21%) vodkas posted very satisfactory performances.

Patrick Ricard, chairman and CEO said: "Our performance for the 1st quarter of 2005 was very satisfactory, enabling me to anticipate significant organic operating profit growth for the 1st half of 2005."