Sales of Jameson Irish Whiskey helped drive first half revenues at parent group Pernod Ricard, but the French drinks giant has warned the coronavirus will hit its full-year top line figures.
Jameson sales - in both volume and value terms - grew by 9%, year-on-year, in the six months to the end of December, with particularly strong growth seen in emerging markets like China, Nigeria and India. In Ireland, volume growth of 6% was achieved.
Pernod's Irish Distillers subsidiary saw sales growth across all of its whiskey brands, with its Redbreast label growing by 24%.
"Jameson has been driving the growth of the Irish whiskey category for the past 30 years...Growth isn't just confined to Jameson, there has been strong growth across our portfolio of whiskeys in the first half of the year," said Irish Distillers boss Conor McQuaid.
Jameson helped boost Pernod Ricard's first half organic group sales by a better-than-expected 2.7% to just under €5.5bn. Profit was up by 4.3% to €1.8bn.
Pernod, under pressure from US hedge fund Elliott to improve profit margins and corporate governance, said it is now targeting an organic rise of 2% to 4% in profit from recurring operations for the year to the end of June, compared with a previous forecast of 5% to 7%.
That, it said, was because the coronavirus epidemic in China is likely to have a severe impact on its third quarter performance and hit its full year sales.
However, Pernod said it remains confident over its medium term-prospects in China - its second largest market after the US, accounting for 10% of sales - despite the coronavirus epidemic.
“Our mid-term ambition remains intact. Fundamentals in China are extremely solid,” group CEO and chairman Alexandre Ricard said.
- additional reporting Reuters