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Pernod Ricard expands Champagne reach in China, US and Africa

Pernod Ricard has said its Champagne division benefited from a deeper reach in the US, Asia and Africa in its last fiscal year, but the French market remains tough.

Strong demand in Asia and the US saw Pernod Ricard’s Perrier-Jouet brand increase net sales by 7% for the year to the end of June on an organic basis, which excludes currency swings.

Brand volumes rose by a more austere 1% versus the previous year, but that was still enough to break a new record at 200,000 nine-litre cases.

Champagne has endured a mixed few years, with total volume sales dropping by 4% in 2012, but Pernod’s figures again highlight the sector’s growing appeal to consumers beyond Western Europe.

‘Champagne is becoming an international category,’ Alex Ricard, the French group’s deputy chief executive, told decanter.com at a press conference in London this morning. ‘We are seeing growth in China, the US and also Africa.’

Champagne is a key prong of Pernod Ricard’s emerging markets business in Africa, added Laurent Lacassagne, who is now head of the firm’s Scotch whisky and gin business, Chivas Brothers, but who previously was chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

‘We are activating Champagne brands a little bit everywhere in premium, trendy places in Africa,’ he told journalists, citing the cities of Lagos and Johannesburg in particular.

Closer to home, sales of Mumm Champagne suffered in Pernod’s last fiscal year, dropping by 4% in value and 5% in volume due to weakness in France. In Australia, however, Mumm showed ‘extremely strong growth’, said Alex Ricard, who is also chief operating officer for the group.

In the UK wine business, Pernod said it was pleased with its performance for the year, after seeing Jacob’s Creek return to growth and strong momentum for Campo Viejo. ‘We continue to invest heavily in our own brands,’ said Denis O’Flynn, MD for Pernod Ricard UK.

Written by Chris Mercer

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