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Video: Chivas introduces new CEO and a refresh for one of its most iconic brands alongside latest sales figures

Jean-Etienne Gourgues, the new chairman and chief executive of Chivas Brothers.

Chivas Regal is getting the biggest brand refresh in its history in an attempt to woo “hustle generation” drinkers to the blended whisky.

The changes were announced as drink firm Chivas Brothers – part of French group Pernod Ricard – shook off the impact of Covid-19 to report a surge in sales during the year to June.

Star performer The Glenlivet – one of the world’s best-selling single malts – continues to amass new followers, with sales up by 19% over the 12 months. Stripping out travel retailing, which has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, sales were up by 26%.

We are targeting a younger generation of consumers.”

Nick Blacknell, marketing director, Chivas Brothers.

Among other brands, Ballantine’s registered an organic sales increase of 1% despite its exposure to travel retail.

Royal Salute, whose spiritual home is Strathisla Distillery, in Keith, achieved double-digit growth in several key markets, with particularly strong performances in China, South Korea and the US, but total sales fell 6%.

‘Transformational’ year ahead

Chivas Regal – also based at Strathisla – returned to growth ahead of what is expected to be a “transformational” year for the iconic brand, with double-digit growth in China, Turkey, the US and Russia pushing total global sales up 3%.

Glasgow-headquartered Chivas revealed its iconic Regal brand, launched in the US in 1909, was in line for a major revamp as the company targets growing interest in whisky among younger drinkers.

A new-look bottle – taller but with less glass than before – and “simplified” packaging are already rolling off the production line and will start making their debut in global markets later this year.

Chivas Regal’s new bottle and carton.

Marketing director Nick Blacknell said the changes were part of a “future-forward” strategy for Chivas.

He added: “We really have ambition to be one of the leading luxury spirit brands in the 21st Century.

“We are targeting a younger generation of consumers – we call them the hustle generation but they are largely drawn from Gen Z and young millennials – and they are hungry for status-driven spirits.”

Mr Blacknell hinted at an upcoming collaboration with “one of the biggest global fashion brands”.

Chivas also introduced its new chairman and chief executive, Jean-Etienne Gourgues, who joined in July from Pernod Ricard China, where he served as managing director.

Mr Gourgues succeeds Jean-Christophe Coutures, who was in the dual Chivas posts for three years.

The new CEO said: “It’s clear from these results that we are making a steady return to our pre-Covid momentum, already exceeding this in domestic markets.

‘Creative campaigns’

“The breadth of our portfolio is our greatest asset, and we have continued to invest in innovation and creative campaigns despite the challenging year.”

A recent suspension of US tariffs on single malts will “certainly boost the industry’s recovery”, Mr Gourgues said.

But he also urged the UK Government to cut spirits duty in the next Budget and prioritise whisky in ongoing trade negotiations, with a particular focus on reducing the 150% tariff on Scotch exports to India.”

“It’s clear from these results that we are making a steady return to our pre-Covid momentum.”

Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and chief executive, Chivas Brothers,

Chivas is targeting net-zero distillation by 2026. To achieve this the company aims to drive “super low energy distillation” as a priority and then decarbonise any residual carbon emissions.

A major step towards this target has been reached at Glentauchers, on Speyside, with Chivas claiming an industry first for a “massive” 90% energy reduction on a single pot still using a technique known as Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR).

Chivas plans to roll out MVR across “all viable sites” by 2026 following its introduction at Glentauchers, whose output is a major single malt component of Ballantine’s.

Glentauchers Distillery, on Speyside.

Mr Gourgues also announced Braeval Distillery, also on Speyside, had become the firm’s first “zero direct carbon” production plant, following a successful switch to a rapeseed residue based bio-fuel.

It is expected to save 6,671 tonnes of carbon per year at Braeval and the bio-oil will next be introduced to Glentauchers.

Chivas said 2020-21 sales were particularly strong in Asian markets where lockdown restrictions have been lifted or eased, with China, Taiwan and South Korea registering growth of 47%, 20%, and 46% respectively.

Strong performance were also recorded in Eastern European and Latin American markets, with Poland and Russia growing 19% and 17% respectively, and Brazil up 60%.

The company said the strength of The Glenlivet brand in the US – helped by the launch of a new Caribbean Reserve expression  – was “instrumental in securing the business”, with sales in America up 19% despite the impact of Covid restrictions and the tariffs on single malts which were in effect for most of FY21.

Pernod sales and profits up

Chivas Brothers’ sales figures come after Paris-based Pernod posted a 9.7% jump in global sales to £7.6 billion during the year to June 30.

The total was boosted by a 56.5% jump in the final quarter, as restrictions were eased in the UK and other key regions. Operating profits from continuing operations grew by 7% to just under £1.4bn.

Pernod’s other brands include Jameson Irish whiskey, Beefeater gin, Havana Club rum, Malibu coconut-flavour rum, Jacob’s Creek wine and champagne brands Mumm and Perrier-Jouet.

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