FRANCE: Bullish Pernod ups sales forecast

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Pernod Ricard has upped its forecast on annual sales growth after posting a healthy set of half-year figures today (25 January).

The French drinks giant, owner of brands including Chivas Regal Scotch whisky, Beefeater gin and Jacob's Creek wine, said it expects sales to rise over 6% during the 12 months to 30 June.

Chairman and CEO Patrick Ricard dubbed the company's performance "outstanding". He said: "Our excellent half-year net sales testify to the strength of our global network and to the quality of our portfolio, driven by luxury and prestige brands.

"This outstanding performance leads us to review our full-year sales objectives upwards, in spite of less favourable comparison bases in the second half. We now anticipate net sales organic growth in excess of 6%."

The group posted a 9.7% rise in first-half sales thanks to a strong performance from its spirits brands, particularly in Asia and the Americas. In all, turnover for the six months to 31 December last year reached EUR3.5bn (US$4.5bn), Pernod said.

Revenue from the company's 15 "strategic" brands, which also include Ballantine's Scotch and Martell Cognac, rose 14% during the period. Stolichnaya vodka saw sales jump 32%, while sales of Perrier-Jouet Champagne leapt 43%.

Champagne failed to boost Pernod's overall wine business, however, which saw sales fall 1.1%. Jacob's Creek also slid, by 3% due to the challenging conditions in the UK wine market.

On a more positive note, Pernod said revenue from Asia and the rest of the world rose 12.1%, boosted by sales of Ballantine's and Martell.

In the Americas, revenue increased by 14% thanks to growing demand in the US, Mexico and Canada. Pernod pointed to growing sales of Stolichnaya, Jameson Irish whiskey and The Glenlivet single malt Scotch for its rising US sales.

Pernod also saw sales rise in Europe, by 6.6% thanks to growing demand for Ballantine's in Spain, Germany and Greece. The company, however, said the UK and Italian markets "remained difficult".

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