Pernod Ricard has today released financial results for 2003, showing a fall in revenue of 27%. However, the figures are the first since Ricard withdrew from its non-wine and spirits activities.

The consolidated annual turnover for the group was €3.5m, compared with €4.8m for last year. The effect of foreign exchange rates also took a lump out of the company's performance, and sales for its core wines and spirits unit rose only 0.3%.

The French drinks company revised its financial results guidance upwards, however, saying that pretax profit before exceptional items will rise by 5%, including any currency impact.

Organic growth in sales on a like-for-like basis at stable currency rates rose by 8.1% for the wines and spirits and 5.5% for the total group.

The company credited the growth to good performance by the majority of both global and local brands in the various regions of the world.

In a statement, Patrick Ricard, chairman and chief executive, said: "I am pleased with the commercial results for 2003, and particularly with our performance on Chivas and Martell.

"We will exceed the guidance for internal growth in net operating result which we previously announced to the market." He added: "Despite unfavourable currency effects we anticipate a growth of our profit before tax & exceptional of around 5 %.

Ricard concluded: "2003 saw the continuation of a rapid reduction in the group's indebtedness."

The volume of Chivas and Martell increased by 7% and 8% respectively, showing renewed growth for the two brands. This revival was led in Asia, which is becoming the premier region for Chivas, and in Europe.

Pernod saw its growth drivers continue their rapid development due to growth in American and European markets. Jacob's Creek rose by 14%, Havana Club was up by 11%, Jameson also climbed, by 8%, while Amaro Ramazzotti rose by 9%. The Glenlivet  climbed by 7%.

Figures in the Americas showed internal growth of 12.4%. This region, which accounts for 22% of the group's sales, saw USA Seagram's Gin rise by 1%, successful launching of Seagram's Vodka, and continued strong growth by Jameson (18%), Jacob's Creek (26%) and The Glenlivet (6%). A revival was seen in Venezuela, Argentina and Cuba.

But it was in Asia and the Pacific that Pernod had its strongest performance, with internal growth jumping by 17.9%. The main beneficiaries were Chivas, Martell, Royal Salute, 100 Pipers and the local brands. Japan and Korea, on the other hand, remain depressed.

In Europe, excluding France, internal growth rose by 4.7%, through growth in the markets in Italy, Greece, the UK, the Czech Republic and Russia. Ireland and Poland, however, were affected by an unfavourable environment and sales declined.

In the group's home market of France, internal growth also slipped, by 1.1%. The volumes for Ricard (-5%), Pastis 51 (-7%) and Clan Campbell (-5%), although improved in the second half of the year, suffered from the depression of the French market.

Full-year results for Pernod Ricard are due on 18 March.