The family behind Pernod Ricard, whose patriarch Patrick Ricard died two weeks ago, looks set to take back control of the French drinks company, despite holding just 14% of the business.
On 30 August, the company announced that Patrick’s nephew, Alexandre, would succeed non-family chief executive Pierre Pringuet in 2015 – the firm hasn't been run by a family member since 2008, when Patrick, who was chair of the business at the time of his sudden death, stepped down from the chief executive role.
Alexandre, currently managing director of the company’s distribution network, has been promoted to deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, in preparation for eventually taking the reins at the end of January 2015.
His appointment, the company said, was on Pringuet’s “proposal”. The 40-year-old also will replace his late uncle as board director.
Succession at Pernod Ricard was thrown into question following Patrick’s death on 17 August, reportedly of a heart attack. He had overseen the rapid expansion of the global business and was the main driver of a number of big purchases, including the $8.15 billion (€6.48 billion) acquisition of Seagrams drinks division in 2001.
The latest promotion appears to cement the family's continued involvement in Pernod Ricard, designating Alexandre as the clear successor to the family business despite the Ricards’ limited shareholding.
A spokeswoman at Pernod Ricard refused to comment on the succession plan, saying the matter is “private”. But she said: “Of course, Alexandre is ready to take over the business.”
In its 30 August statement, the company also announced that 73-year-old Daniele Ricard would succeed her late brother as chair of the world’s second largest spirits-maker by both volume and sales. She has been involved in the family business since 1969 and is a member of the company’s strategic committee.
Pernod Ricard likewise appointed Pringuet vice-chairman. He will continue to act as chief executive until his mandatory retirement in 2015, the company said.
Meanwhile, Patrick's son, Paul-Charles, 30, took over Alexandre’s place on the board, representing the family holding company Paul Ricard SA. He is international brand manager of subsidiary Martell Mumm Perrier Jouet.
In the statement, the company said the appointments “reflect the board of directors’ intention to see Alexandre Ricard succeed Daniele Ricard and Pierre Pringuet in their duties as chairman and chief executive officer”.
On the same day as the appointments, Pernod Ricard reported a 10% increase in full-year net profit to €1.15 billion. It posted revenues of €8.2 billion, its “best growth since the 2008 crisis”, it said.