Pernod Ricard has its sights set on the future

Pernod Ricard has its sights set on the future

There was always going to be an unusual tone to yesterday's (30 August) full-year results from Pernod Ricard, released just two weeks after the death of chairman and former CEO Patrick Ricard. 

Patrick's nephew, Alexandre Ricard, paid tribute to his uncle in a press conference with journalists, but was quick to change from what had been to what will be as he told how the sudden loss had stiffened the family's commitment to the company. “If there have been any doubts about family unity, they have been allayed,” Alexandre said.

Much of what was said yesterday was about looking to the future, an attitude made easier thanks to a strong set of results that pleased analysts and commentators alike. Dynastic niggles that could have been a problem down the road were also solved as Pernod announced that Alexandre would take over as CEO from Pierre Pringuet in January 2015, with Patrick's sister, Danièle Ricard, taking the reins as chairman. 

All of which meant a good day for Pernod, and, according to some, a great one for the Ricard family.

“Ricard rises at Pernod,” the UK's Independent wrote, adding that with Alexandre's promotion “the founding family of the French drinks group Pernod Ricard has strengthened its grip on the world's second-largest spirits maker”.

Analysts said the market will view the baton change favourably, while those involved had the long-view in mind.

“The new position of Alexander is the last stage of his career,” Pringuet said in an interview with Le Figaro. “After that, [the company] will fly with its own wings.”

Pringuet said the group did not want to be the “Poulidor” of spirits. Raymond Poulidor was a Tour de France cyclist who had an unfortunate habit of finishing second. With Diageo already overtaking Pernod as the investor's choice in Europe, the company might need some of the old family magic to win this uphill race.

Pringuet also told journalists he has other things to look forward too in his post-Pernod life, though what that might be, he's not telling.

“I have other things to do," he said.