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Pernod Ricard UK reveals focus for future

Pernod Ricard has revealed its new areas of investment will focus on sustainability initiatives, innovation in flavoured and mixable spirits, as well as makeover and repositioning plans for both its Chivas Regal whisky and Beefeater gin brands.

Speaking today during Pernod Ricard’s UK FY21 Financial Press Conference, Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, Louise Ryan, managing director of The Gin Hub, Nick Blacknell global marketing director Chivas Regal and David Haworth, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK highlighted that in the UK the company has seen “existing market trends accelerated through the lockdown period.”

“We have increased our market share of flavoured spirits through a year of unprecedented growth and innovation,” and there are “signs of a strong on-trade recovery for spirits, with sustainability a priority for Pernod Ricard and our consumers,” Haworth said.

In terms of the drinks giant’s investment into advertising and promotional spend, the team revealed plans “to keep significant investment in the A&P structure.”

With regards to sustainability and Pernod Ricard’s environmental stance, there was a clear desire to continue a path towards a sustainable future and reflect this to both the industry and the end consumer.

“We want to be a very consumer-centric organisation,” said Haworth, noting that “83% of UK consumers expect food and drink brands to engage in sustainability” and that Chivas is “targeting net zero distillation by 2026. Using the industry’s first high efficiency MVR fan technology reducing 90% of energy used by a pot still.”


In addition to plans to stride forwards with domestic markets to offset the flux across global travel retail, Pernod Ricard announced a redesign of its Chivas brand involving a repositioning of the whisky that targeted a younger demographic in what it called: “one of the biggest changes to Chivas packaging in its history”.

“We are announcing a future-forward strategy for Chivas, which retargets a younger ‘hustle’ generation who are hungry for status-driven spirits,” said Blacknell, pointing out that there is a plan in place for the brand to begin “also upping the game in cultural activations”.

Blacknell highlighted that there would be an increased focus on highballs as part of the packaging relaunch and associated activations, noting how “people want whisky ice and soda. They want newly developed long, light and fresh drinks,” so Chivas will begin “targeting a new status-driven audience through a fresh set of global collaborators and connectors.”

Blacknell also lamented the knock-on effect that the diminished global travel retail has had upon spirits brands such as Chivas Regal and has set out a course to boost domestic sales in the meantime. “To have the whole brand back to growth it depends on global travel retail, but we will focus on the domestic markets,” he assured.


Also being given focus due to waning sales amid Covid restrictions is Beefeater gin, which suffered greatly from reduced trade in both Spain and global travel retail. In an effort to increase its popularity, flavoured and pre-mixed canned variants have begun being piloted and rolled out.

“We brought to market two pilot tests for Beefeater – Beefeater Light, which will be led by TV and digital and are already in Brazil and Canada, then there’s Peach and Raspberry in the UK,” said Ryan, adding that there are now “Beefeater cans in the RTD segment” and that Pernod Ricard is also “looking at unveiling a new look and pack for Beefeater.”


As a drinks company that has its finger on the pulse where new trends are concerned, Haworth revealed that national and international lockdowns have had a considerable impact on at home cocktail trends. “At home cocktail consumption grew rapidly and more rapidly than we ever thought,” he revealed. Haworth also hinted that there would be renewed focus on the company’s premium wine stable with new releases being introduced. “We are investing in our premium wine portfolio and brought NPD to market adding value to the category.”


While global travel retail has taken the biggest hit for many brand owners with the closure of the sector while the world waits for a return to travelling, Pernod Ricard is confident that when it does return, there is likely to be an uplift of holidaymakers looking for purchases, even if business travel decreases. “We expect 2022 to still be a difficult year for global travel retail business as there are significant restrictions still in place while it is recovering. Leisure travel is going to rebound very strongly. Business travel might not recover to pre-Covid times,” said Gourgues, adding, “our number one priority is to invest in future growth.”

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