Scotland business

Scotch firm toasts Irish whiskey success

Chivas Brothers aged Scotch whisky range Image copyright Chivas
Image caption Pernod Ricard's brands include The Glenlivet, Ballantine's and Chivas Regal

One of the biggest Scotch whisky distillers has seen faster growth in sales of its Irish whiskey brand, according to new figures.

Pernod Ricard, which is based in France, is the second biggest distiller of Scotch after Diageo.

Its brands include Chivas, The Glenlivet and Ballentine's.

However, the distiller reported that Jameson's, the biggest-selling Irish whiskey, continued to be the star performer among its premium brands.

American sales of the Cork-distilled whiskey were up more than 10%.

'Challenging for Scotch'

In its update for investors, the drinks company reported total sales rose 3% in the first three months of 2017, and the detail gave some pointers to the market for whisky and other drinks around the world.

Pernod Ricard reported the Chinese market "remains challenging for Scotch", while there were more positive sales figures for Martell brandy.

Imported spirits have been held back in China by official disapproval of conspicuous business hospitality and gifts. Bar and restaurant sales were reported to remain in decline.

The company said Korean sales continue a "strong decline" across its brands.

It also reported on the disruptive effect in India of the government removing large amounts of the nation's paper money from circulation, and a new law that will forbid the sale of alcohol close to highways.

'Resilient and dynamic'

In Latin America, which has been a strong growth area for Scotch exports, Brazilian sales were weaker due to prolonged recession. But sales across the Pernod Ricard brands were strongly up in other countries, led by Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.

The UK market was described as resilient and "dynamic", because its products were being imported ahead of price increases in March, linked to the weakening of sterling. Among the stronger performers were Absolut vodka and Jameson's.

With its full year results for 2015-16, Pernod Ricard reported Jameson's global sales were up 12% by volume and 16% by value.

In Scotch whisky, Ballentine's rose 5% by volume over the year, while Chivas was down 5% and Glenlivet single malt by 2%.

Another French company with a stake in Scotch whisky, Remy-Martin, this week reported that its sales of "Progressive Hebridean" spirits, including Bruichladdich and The Botanist gin, rose by more than 10% in the year to March.

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