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Interview, Part 2: Pernod Ricard USA Chief Commercial Officer John Barrett

December 10, 2021

In the second part of our interview, Pernod Ricard USA chief commercial officer John Barrett discusses growth opportunities across the Pernod Ricard portfolio, new product activity, and how the group is addressing supply chain challenges in the U.S.

SND: Which Pernod Ricard brands are driving the best growth lately?

Barrett: Pernod Ricard’s portfolio is growing rapidly. In the U.S., we hit the highest-ever growth mark of 16% year-over-year and achieved a major milestone—surpassing the $2 billion mark for the first year ever. We’re seeing consumers making premium purchasing choices as they continue to enhance their at-home experiences. This is evident as we see growth in the $50+ and $100+ price tiers. We’ve seen strong performances by Jameson, which had 9.6% 12-month growth through June, and Absolut, which grew 2.5% with the successful launch of Absolut Watermelon and our most recent #MixResponsibly campaign. Additionally, Redbreast Irish whiskey has experienced strong double-digit growth in all key markets and Monkey 47 premium gin has been developing strongly in the U.S. Other successful brands in Nielsen channels recently include Aberlour (+32%), Malibu (+24%), and Kahlua (+16%). We see a lot of opportunity for our North American whiskey brands including Jefferson’s, Rabbit Hole, TX, and Smooth Ambler as the category continues to grow.

SND: Which newer products within the portfolio are you particularly excited about?

Barrett: Some of our newest products are in the ready-to-drink sector. In May 2020, we launched Absolut Vodka Sodas and Absolut Cocktails, a range of vodka sodas and cocktails crafted using original Absolut Vodka and made with natural flavors for a convenient consumer cocktail experience. We’ve also recently introduced Malibu Cocktails in a Can, a new range of high-quality premium canned cocktails made with natural flavors and the brand’s signature Caribbean rum. These new options are creating even more convenient ways for our consumers to create their own moments of conviviality with their favorite brands in RTD format. Finally, Redbreast Irish Whiskey has just announced a new product series, inspired by the Iberian Peninsula. The Pedro Ximénez Edition, the first expression, celebrates Redbreast’s time-honored connection to Iberia’s and Ireland’s rich heritages as the finest wine and spirit makers in the world, combining whiskeys that are truly unique.

SND: How are you dealing with the supply chain challenges evident across the industry?

Barrett: There are supply chain issues across almost every industry as manufacturers continue to struggle with pandemic-related supply chain challenges. Our sector faces some unique issues since many luxury spirits products take years to make and age, and often originate from overseas. Since the onset of Covid-19 and the shift of consumer demand to off-premise, Pernod Ricard USA, like other U.S. suppliers, has experienced intermittent out-of-stock situations with several brands as our supply sites worked to keep up with demand. However, by working even more closely with our customers, wholesalers, and sales team to improve our forecasting, being flexible in adapting to supply challenges, and prioritizing our portfolio, our operations team has been finding creative ways to plan production in support of increased demand.

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