Restoring Absolut to growth in the US, is an absolute priority according to Pierre Pringuet, chief executive of Pernod Ricard.
Pringuet was in London yesterday briefing journalists and analysts about the Pernod Ricard results that were announced last week.
The acquisition of the Swedish-owned Vin&Sprit went thru in July last year as the economic crisis went into meltdown. As a result the jewel in the V&S crown flagship premium vodka Absolut was hit severely in the world’s largest vodka market. With consumers trading down and not going out, Absolut sales in the US dropped by 4%.
While there was significant growth in other markets (Brazil +48%, Germany +25%), the US market is key to Absolut.
Pringuet made it clear, that subject to market conditions, it was the aim of the company to restore Absolut to growth in the US. One of his other priorities is to further reduce Pernod Ricard’s debt – it has already disposed of the Wild Turkey and Tia Maria brands. He also announced that there would be no more acquisitions, although he failed to stipulate the time scale.
Despite adverse comments in a recent Deutsche Bank report about the trend towards premiumisation, Pringuet was adamant that the trend would continue. Premium brands generated “traction and appeal. Brands cannot be about low value,” he said. “Part of the magic is the price. For the emerging middle classes in emerging markets, it is a sign, it is recognition.”