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French distiller Pernod Ricard known for its popular brand of alcoholic beverages such as Chivas Regal, Glenvit and Absolut Vodka has laid significant expansion plans for India, which is one of its fastest-growing markets globally. In an interview to Mint Thibault Cuny, Managing Director and CEO, Pernod Ricard India shared the roadmap for the company as it looks to consolidate market share further. Edited excerpts

Pernod Ricard India recorded strong Q1 net sales growth of 27% despite a global pandemic. What were the factors that contributed to this growth?

Pernod Ricard’s sustained investment strategy combined with the on-trade momentum, enabled us to achieve a double-digit topline growth along with a very healthy bottom-line growth in Q1FY’22. The contributory factors include robust demand, strong shipments ahead of the festive season and a strong premiumization trend in India despite the pandemic.

What are your top priorities to augment your long-term growth strategy for India?

As an industry leader in premium brands, Pernod Ricard aspires to provide bespoke or differentiated consumer experiences and product offerings. We are committed to building The Conviviality Platform Company – to unlock the magic of human connection. Our strategy is an unwavering focus on premiumization, data-based innovative consumer experiences, digitization and new formats to address evolving consumer preferences and segments; and paving the way for disruptive consumer trends. Pernod Ricard India’s acquisition of Seagram’s in 2003, led the way for premiumization in the country. We continue to focus on growing our premium and luxury portfolio – which is truly representative of our DNA/heritage, widening the leadership gap across our operating segments, fortifying organizational capabilities in supply chain, data & analytics, digitizing and plant automation. As the conviviality company, we continue to remain committed to investing in our people, fostering a culture of agility, innovation & collaboration, nurturing entrepreneurship in the ecosystem and transforming communities.

With the opening-up of the travel and hospitality sectors, do you see positive prospects for the alcobev industry in the coming quarters? What are some of the emerging trends in the sector?

Emerging consumer trends will define how the industry evolves in tandem. Contrary to conventional expectation, the industry has been witnessing an acceleration in consumer demand for premiumization even amidst the pandemic. Consumers today are willing to invest more if the product provides quality and contributes to their safety.Positive long-term demographic and socio-economic trends led by a growing young population,rising middle and affluent class, increasing purchasing power and rapid urbanization, the premiumization trend is generating greater momentum. We will potentially witness a surge in revenge tourism as people seek to break free from the mundane routine caused by the “new normal". New consumer tribes are also increasingly leaning towards responsible consumption and seeking purpose driven brands that are responsible and respectful of communities. We believe that we are well positioned in the industry through our range of premium and luxury product offerings and initiatives in India.

What are your plans for the premium/luxury category?

Premiumization is in our DNA – and we are committed to carrying forward this legacy. Our premium category is designed to offer better quality, that is resulting in superior consumption experience. Over the next few years, Pernod Ricard India will focus on maintaining leadership in top line growth, introduction of a gamut of premium brands from our stable including - KiNoBi and Malfy Gins - our top end Japanese and Italian Gins, Ballantine’s 7YO Bourbon Finish Scotch Whisky, Lillet, Havana Club 7YO and in addition, expand our Wine portfolio focusing on Spanish and New Zealand wines. In line with our renewed focus on customer experience, at both physical and digital touchpoints, we will cater to bespoke consumer preferences, delivering a luxury experience within a global and scalable cross-market system.

Pernod Ricard has followed the acquisitions route to accelerate growth and portfolio, globally. Are there similar plans for India?

India continues to remain a strategic market for Pernod Ricard. We are committed to nurturing and growing the ecosystem aligned to our ethos of conviviality without excess. Conviviality Ventures, the Group’s investment arm, invests in and mentors smaller companies, startups and adjacent businesses and entrepreneurs. We intend to invest up to Euros 100 million (INR 880 crores) across various markets including India.

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