Pernod Ricard profits from Asian sales

Absolut vodka Pernod Ricard's brands include Absolut, Martell, Jameson, Chivas Regal and Perrier-Jouet

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French spirits group Pernod Ricard has reported a sharp rise in profits thanks in large part to continuing strong sales in Asia.

Net profit for the year to 30 June was 1.08bn euros ($1.54bn; £880m), up 10% on the 978m euros the firm made a year ago. Net sales rose 8% to 7.64bn euros.

Sales outside of Europe and the Americas rose by 19%.

The maker of Absolut and Martell also said it had reduced its debt levels by more than a third to 9bn euros.

Sales in France rose by 4% and in the Americas by 8%. European sales outside France fell by 3%, however.

"We will continue to grow, by capitalising on the strength of our portfolio of brands, the quality of our distribution network and the powerful leverage of emerging markets," said group chief executive Pierre Pringuet.

Pernod Ricard is the world's second biggest distiller of Scotch whisky, after Diageo, claiming to have a 20% share of the market.

Its lead brands saw significant increases in sales. Chivas Regal sales were up by 9%, Ballantine's by 8% and the Glenlivet single malt by 14%.

Its Royal Salute brand of Scotch whisky, with prices per bottle starting at £100, was up by 27%, with sales being driven by demand in Asia.

Other Pernod brands include Jameson, Havana Club, Jacob's Creek and Campo Viejo.

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