Patrick Ricard, the man who transformed his family company into one of the world’s biggest wines and spirits empires, has died aged 67.
Paul and Patrick Ricard in 1992
According to a brief statement from Pernod Ricard, he died on Friday at Sainte-Anne hospital in Toulon, France after what is thought to have been a heart attack. No further details were given.
‘The staff of SA Paul Ricard as well as the 18,000 employees of Pernod Ricard group share the grief of the family,’ the company said.
A respected and much-liked figure, Ricard spent his entire professional life with the firm founded in 1932 by his father Paul Ricard, who concocted a recipe for an anise-flavoured pastis at his kitchen table.
Patrick Ricard joined Ricard in 1967 and became managing director in 1972 – a position he held after the company merged with its rival Pernod in 1975.
He was appointed chief executive and chairman in 1978, when only 17% of the group’s turnover was generated outside France – a figure that today stands at 90%, with group sales of €7.6bn in 2011, and holdings which include Champagne Mumm and Perrier-Jouet, Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo, Chivas Regal whisky, Absolut vodka and 15 distilleries in Scotland.
Ricard, who was named European businessman of the year by the US magazine Fortune in 2006, spearheaded the group’s drive to dominate international markets with a series of acquisitions including Wild Turkey in 1981, followed by Irish Distillers, Chivas and Martell cognac.
In 1989 Pernod Ricard acquired Australia’s Orlando Wyndham, makers of Jacob’s Creek, and in 2005 Ricard masterminded a £7.5bn agreement to take over Allied Domecq in partnership with Fortune Brands, a deal which turned Pernod Ricard into the world’s second-biggest drinks company after Diageo.
In 2008, in his last major deal as CEO, he directed the acquisition of Vin & Spirit, the owner of Absolut vodka, for €5.3bn.
In 2008 Ricard handed over the running of the company to Pierre Pringuet, who was named No.1 in Decanter magazine’s 2011 Power List of the 50 most influential people in the global wine world.
Patrick Ricard was married with three children.
Written by Adam Lechmere