Jameson maker confident of continued growth despite ongoing Covid challenges

Jameson maker confident of continued growth despite ongoing Covid challenges

Irish Distillers chairman and CEO Conor McQuaid reported a solid start to the financial year despite the difficult environment. 

The maker of Jameson, Powers, and Midleton Irish whiskies has said it is confident of continued sales growth despite the likelihood of extended Covid restrictions and the hospitality sector remaining closed for the foreseeable future.

Irish Distillers — the local arm of global drinks giant Pernod Ricard — said net global sales of its biggest product, Jameson, grew 3% in the first half of its financial year, covering the six months to the end of December.

Despite hotels and bars largely being shut for the bulk of the period, the company said Jameson saw significant sales volume growth in key markets, driven by off-trade sales. 

Off-trade sales are driving growth 

Sales were up 12% in Britain, 7% in the US, and by 4% here in Ireland.

In all, Jameson sold 4.75m cases during the six months — its highest ever volumes despite the Covid backdrop and all of the associated disruption and restrictions. This growth was also helped by continued sales increases in emerging markets such as Nigeria, India, and Brazil.

“Despite an extremely difficult environment, we had a solid start to the financial year," said Irish Distillers chairman and chief executive Conor McQuaid.

Covid restrictions are likely to remain in place, in some form, across most of Jameson’s chief markets for some time. 

Ireland’s current lockdown is certainly looking increasingly likely to remain in place for longer than had been hoped, with an extended shutdown of the hospitality industry a noticeable part of that.

Upbeat outlook despite lockdown

However, Mr McQuaid said Irish Distillers remains upbeat regarding its sales outlook.

"Despite the considerable current challenges, we remain positive about the future growth opportunity for our portfolio globally,” he said.

While our results reflect increased demand in the off-trade outlets, the pandemic continues to present challenging business conditions for our partners in hospitality, the on-trade and global travel retail.

“We understand that it will take some time for those sectors to recover and reach pre‐pandemic growth levels, but we are optimistic for the future and confident that they will rebound and emerge even stronger than before,” he said.

Mr McQuaid also said Jameson has profited from a move into the ready-to-drink (RTD) category.

The category has exploded in recent years, and the trend continued in 2020 with [the] Jameson RTD range up by 42% in value compared to the first half of the previous year due to growth in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada.” 

Mr McQuaid said Pernod Ricard/Irish Distillers has seen increasing growth within its premium whiskey and gin brands.

“The trend of premiumisation continues apace as more and more consumers choose higher-quality spirits, with Redbreast, the Spot range, and Method and Madness [gin] achieving their highest ever volume sales; with the Midleton range seeing significant value growth driven by the US, UK, Irish, German, and Canadian markets,” he said.

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