INSIDE THE WORLD OF BUSINESS
Ricard nephew may raise glass as family firm’s CEO
The unexpected death of Pernod Ricard chairman Patrick Ricard may speed up his nephew’s climb to the top, reinforcing the founding family’s grip on the world’s second-largest spirits maker.
Patrick Ricard, whose father Paul founded the eponymous maker of the aniseed-flavoured pastis liquor in Marseilles in 1932, died on Friday aged 67.
Alexandre Ricard (40) has long been expected to become chief executive, fulfilling his uncle’s wish that the French heirs of the company’s founder remain at the helm of a global business that includes Jameson Whisky and Absolut Vodka alongside Ricard and Pernod pastis. That could now happen as soon as 2015, when incumbent Pierre Pringuet, the first person outside the family to hold that post, is due to retire.
Ricard, whose family is the group’s biggest shareholder with a 14 per cent stake, joined in 2003. In 2008, he became chairman and chief executive of Irish Distillers, before moving on last year to managing director of its global distribution network, with a seat on its executive board.
Speaking to The Irish Times during his time at Irish Distillers, the hard-working Alexandre was coy on the subject of following in the family footsteps at the head of the group. He said having a Ricard heading the business would “be the cherry on the cake” for the family. But it will always choose the right person for the job, family or not.
Sanford C Bernstein analyst Jean-Marc Chow said yesterday that Alexandre, whose father Bernard was at the helm between 1968 and 1972, is being groomed to become “the next CEO”. And French daily Les Echos, which did not cite its sources, said Alexandre could soon become deputy chief executive with Pringuet taking the chairman position. Chow suggested Patrick Ricard’s sister and board member Daniele (73) may become chairman.
Kingspan profits overtake sales
The results published yesterday by Kingspan show profits growing at a faster rate than sales as a result of innovation and a continuing shift into higher-spec business. That is all the more welcome coming as it does against the backdrop of Ireland’s ongoing economic woes.
That the Cavan-based building materials group has grown to become a multinational is in large part due to its focus on establishing a technological advantage over its peers, something it continues to strive to maintain by way of its €12 million per annum spending on research and development.
This and the no-doubt-associated appetite within the group for steady progress and growth are the hallmarks of many successful manufacturing businesses.
A stark aspect of the figures released yesterday, however, comes in the short section dealing with sales in Ireland. While sales by the insulation panel division were up to varying degrees in all other markets in the first half of this year, they were down by 13 per cent in Ireland.
For the insulation boards division, sales in Ireland were down 18 per cent. The rate of newbuild housing reached a low during the period of approximately 5,000 units a year, the report noted.