Pernod has lost Imperial sales in South Korea

Pernod has lost Imperial sales in South Korea

Pernod Ricard has blamed a drop in sales for its blended Scotch whisky in South Korea on consumer trends towards white spirits and single malt.

The company's Imperial range has reportedly seen sales in South Korea fall by 21% in the first six months of the year, alongside a 20% drop for Diageo's blended Scotch brand, Windsor. Industry observers have blamed the decline on a consumer switch to lighter and cheaper drinks.

However, Eric Benoist, marketing director for Pernod's Scotch unit Chivas Brothers, told just-drinks this week that South Korean consumers are “experimenting” with different alcohol categories.

“The market is evolving a lot,” Benoist said. “Soju is still popular but there are new trends in the country for white spirits such as vodka and single malt.”

Benoist said Pernod needs to “find a balance” in the market as there is room in South Korea for all spirit categories.

Imperial, which underwent a packaging redesign in April, is the second-biggest selling Scotch in South Korea, selling a reported 6.8m litres last year behind Diageo's Windsor's 7.2m litres. Pernod took full control of Imperial in June last year.

Benoist was speaking at the opening of Chivas Brother's new super-premium bottling hall in Paisley, near Glasgow, on Tuesday. The “Prestige Hall”, which is part of Pernod's new GBP40m (US$62.2m) annual investment in Scotch to increase production, will bottle Chivas products including Imperial, Royal Salute and Chivas Regal.

Chivas said the hall will allow for more complex packaging that will help its products stand out in the competitive high-end spirits market.