French drinks congolomerate Pernod Ricard has announced that Alexandre Ricard will become its chairman and chief executive from 2015. His appointment follows the death of his uncle, Patrick Ricard, earlier this month at the age of 67.
Currently, the CEO is Pierre Pringuet, who took over the post in 2008. At that time Patrick Ricard retained the position of chairman despite his retirement. In a reorganization of the company's management structure, Patrick's sister, Daniele Ricard, will serve as chairman in the interim, while Alexandre Ricard will be chief operating officer until he takes over the firm in three years' time. At that point Pringuet will have reached the statutory age limit for a CEO.
At the meeting to decide the changes, the board of directors paid tribute to Patrick Ricard, describing him as "a visionary entrepreneur" who was able to transform the group into a world leader.
In a separate statement, the group said that net profits for the year ending on June 30 gained 10 percent to 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion), and that it would propose a 10 percent increase in its dividend to 1.58 euros.
Sales were up by eight percent to 8.2 billion euros ($10 billion) in the period, notably thanks to growth in Asia.
Pernod Ricard shares jumped by 1.67 percent to 86.31 euros in morning trades on the Paris stock exchange, while the CAC 40 index of French blue-chips was down by 0.13 percent.
"The figures are generally in line with expectations and completely satisfactory," commented analyst Jean-Marie Lhome at the Aurel BGC brokerage. "We nonetheless think the share's value is under pressure as it already includes all the good news."
Alexandre Ricard is the grandson of Paul Ricard, the company founder, who in 1932 became the first to produce pastis, a popular anise-flavored liqueur, on a commercial scale. The firm, which now also produces Absolut Vodka, Martell cognac, Perrier-Jouet Champagne and Glenlivet whisky, is the world's number two alcoholic beverage producer after the British group Diageo.
Alexandre joined the family firm in 2003, as audit and business development manager. Born in 1972, he has an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship, as well as an MA in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Pernod Ricard he worked for Accenture and Morgan Stanley.