Pernod Ricard's head of distribution has said that signs of economic improvement in some markets give the industry a reason to be optimistic going forward.

"I am cautiously optimistic," said Michel Bord, managing director of Pernod Ricard's global distribution network, at a dinner held by the company at the TFWA expo in Cannes last night (20 October).

"Last year, we knew the crisis was coming but we did not see any effects. Now, we have seen the effects of this crisis, but we have worked hard to position ourselves to take advantage when the crisis ends," said Bord in a pre-dinner speech.

Pernod Ricard will tomorrow (22 October) report sales for its first fiscal quarter, the three months to the end of September.

Analysts expect sales to be down on the same period of 2008, particularly following news of a 6% sales slip at Diageo in the same quarter.

"We expect a 6% organic decline," said analyst group Sanford C Bernstein in a note this week. "We think it likely that Pernod has been hit by a combination of weak markets, tough comparatives from Q1 F09 [last year] and possible excessive trade "buy-in" in June 2009."

However, Bernstein expects growth in the second half of Pernod's year, in-line with expected economic recovery in key markets, especially China.

A Pernod spokesperson confirmed to just-drinks yesterday that the firm, owner of Absolut vodka, Chivas Regal and Jameson, intends to issue profits guidance for the fiscal year at its annual general meeting on 2 November.