Alexandre Ricard: mergers and acquisitions will continue at Pernod Ricard

Chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard, Alexandre Ricard, says the company will continue to adjust its portfolio through mergers and acquisitions of “bolt on” brands and sales of peripheral lines such as the Domecq sherries and brandies it sold to Emperador last year.

Alexandre Ricard

Speaking in London yesterday, Ricard said the record 21% increase in free cash flow to €799m in the half year to the end of December, coupled with a reduction in the key net debt to earnings ratio to 2.9, meant the company was strongly placed.

“It is a big part of my job to be looking 10 years ahead,” he said. By that he means identifying consumer trends, buying niche brands and extending existing products or developing new ones to meet future demand in whatever form it takes.

One such was yesterday’s launch of Beefeater Pink, an extension of the famous London gin range to appeal to millennials who seek greater variety in their drinking options.

Ricard revealed that he was watching but so far unconvinced by cannabis additives being pioneered in the USA and Canada.

Also announcing a £40m investment in new bottling and packaging facilities for Chivas Bros, Ricard said that as a global business Pernod Ricard wants tariff-free trade.

That is why it is fully backing the Scotch Whisky Association’s pressure on Westminster to make Britain’s exit from the European Community smooth and uncomplicated. In the same vein the French wine and spirits giant is lobbying hard in Brussels.

“Ideally we want tariff-free trade, but whatever the outcome, we will deal with it. We will still produce scotch in Scotland and the UK will remain a key market for us. We want the politicians to get on with it,” he said.

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