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Pernod’s U.S. Upswing Continues In First Quarter, With Sales Rising Nearly 5%

October 20, 2016

Pernod Ricard followed up solid U.S. sales growth in its last fiscal year with a strong first quarter (ending September 30). After achieving a 4% rise in U.S. sales in the 12 months ending June 30, 2016, Pernod’s upswing continued in the first three months of its current 2016-17 fiscal year, as the French drinks giant’s sales advanced by 4.8% in the U.S.

First-quarter growth was driven by Irish whiskey brand Jameson, which enjoyed a double-digit sales gain after a recent price increase further boosted value growth. Even after years of remarkable progress, Jameson shows no sign of slowing down. In 2015, the brand jumped by 21% to 2.43 million cases in the U.S. market, according to Impact Databank.

Pernod’s U.S. performance has also been bolstered by positive trends for Malibu, as well as the recent launches of the upscale Martell Blue Swift and Chivas Ultis. Blue Swift is a VSOP Cognac finished in Kentucky Bourbon barrels for five to seven months that retails for around $50, and represents the first in a series of new products that Martell has in the pipeline. Ultis, the first blended malt Scotch whisky released under the Chivas Regal brand name, retails for about $200.

Meanwhile, Absolut continues to struggle. But the iconic vodka’s decline eased in fiscal 2015-16, and that trend extended into the first quarter. Absolut was down by 1.6% to 4.04 million cases in 2015, according to Impact Databank, and if the brand doesn’t reverse its negative trajectory by year-end, it may end up under the 4-million-case mark for the first time in more than a decade.

Pernod also achieved marked growth outside the U.S., with overall first-quarter sales up 4% to €2.2 billion ($2.4b). Sales rose in the Americas region (+8%), Europe (+2%) and emerging markets (+6%) and were essentially flat in Asia and Africa. —Peter Zwiebach

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