New Irish Distillers boss Jean-Christophe Coutures has, on the back of continued strong sales growth for flagship brand Jameson Irish Whiskey, launched a fresh attack on the Government for its high excise rates.
“Despite the overall global success of our brands, the domestic market continues to pose challenges,” said Mr Coutures yesterday on the back of annual results that showed that Jameson’s sales increased by 12% in volume terms and 16% in value terms in the 12 months to the end of June.
“Ireland has the third highest excise rate on spirits in Europe. It is damaging to our reputation that an American tourist can buy a bottle of Jameson in the US for almost half the price of the same bottle in Ireland, the home of Irish whiskey.”
Mr Coutures replaced Anna Malmhake as Irish Distillers head earlier this year, with Ms Malmhake moving to take charge of vodka brand Absolut in a major management shake-up at parent group Pernod Ricard.
In her four and a half years here, Ms Malmhake also attacked Ireland’s excise rates — 12 months ago calling the outlook for the future of the whiskey industry in Ireland “extremely concerning” without a rate cut.
“The penal excise increases on alcohol accumulated since 2013 endanger the export success of indigenous products, such as Irish whiskey, as well as the 92,000 jobs being supported by the drinks industry in every county throughout Ireland,” she said in August 2015.
Jameson’s latest strong annual performance — double-triple digit percentage sales growth in half of the 130 or so countries it sells into — helped Irish Distillers’ parent Pernod Ricard achieve underlying profit growth of 2% in the year, enabling it to hand a 4% dividend rise to shareholders.
Jameson had the third-highest sales volume increase of Pernod Ricard’s top 14 strategic brands, with particularly strong sales evident in the US, Britain, South Africa, Canada, and Australia.
Overall, Pernod Ricard was helped by strong sales growth in its top market of the US, soothing the sting of a weak China performance.
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