China is now ready for Jameson – Alex Ricard

Jameson accounts for 64% of the Irish whiskey category globally with sales fast-approaching five million cases a year, pointed out Pernod Ricard Chief Executive-designate Alex Ricard at a Capital Markets Day presentation for investors held in Midleton, County Cork, recently.

At the presentation, IDL’s Chairman and Chief Executive Anna Malmhake added that from 2002 to 2012 the Irish whiskey category delivered a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 7.5% set against just 2.9% for the international spirits category as a whole. Irish whiskey now accounts for 6% of global whisk(e)y sales.

The US constitutes the top market for the brand taking up 45% of net sales while Russia – in second place – is responsible for 11% and South Africa with 6% in third place.

Alex Ricard stated that the company aimed to double sales of the brand to 10 million cases over the next six years, generating sales of €1 billion in the process and making the brand a global icon.

But the company now believes that changes in the shape of international spirits marketing – especially in China – could prove an opportunity to sell its lower-priced offerings including Jameson.

With the falling away in sales of top-of-the-range spirits following the official check on extravagant gestures by Chinese Government officials in 2012 it’s Alex Ricard’s belief that the company’s more affordable brands will be able to exploit this gap in the market.

“There’s a big structural shift happening in China that started about a couple of years ago,” he told the Midleton conference, “China is becoming a normal emerging market.

“Over the last two years, as the emerging middle class and urbanisation has accelerated, we’re starting to see the birth of the premium segment.”

He continued, “There’s a sweet-spot, then, for Jameson in China. This will be the subject of discussion between Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard China, who’re getting ready to focus as well on the premium segment which clearly didn’t exist three or four years ago”.

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