Pernod Ricard has warned that a severe slowdown across western economies may damage its earnings over the next year. 

Pernod, which has previously remained steadfastly optimistic about its ability to weather weakening economic conditions, said today (18 September) that profit growth would be affected should there be "a severe deterioration in the global business environment".

Its warning today came as it announced that net profit crept up 1% to EUR840m (US$1.2bn) for the year to the end of June.

In its outlook, the French wine and spirits giant said it expected organic profit growth of 8% over the next year. Sales were expected to rise in the low to mid-single digits, it added.

Pernod's conditional profit forecast follows several days of turmoil on financial markets, which has seen Lehman Bros, the fourth largest investment bank in the US, file for bankruptcy, and AIG, the largest US insurance group, rescued from collapse by emergency government aid.

The group confirmed a 2% sales rise for its full-year, lifted by its major spirits brands and emerging markets in Asia.

It also said net debt was likely to increase in the first half of the year, due to EUR59m in compensation that the firm has agreed to pay in order to exit the Maxxium Worldwide distribution venture from 1 October.