How the heir to the Ricard group succeeded in his crazy bet

At 57, Alexandre Ricard, CEO of the Pernod-Ricard group, CEO for 7 years, is putting the world number 2 in wines and spirits back on the path to record growth. The grandson of founder Paul Ricard, who relocated the head office to Marseille, achieved record growth with 10.7 billion euros in turnover, an increase of 21%.

After Franco-American studies centered on international trade and finance (ESCP Europe, Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania), Alexandre Ricard seemed programmed to integrate the business world, and more particularly the family group. No wonder when you have such a well-known name, that of the world number 2 in wines and spirits.

However, it was only in 2003 that he joined the family business where he held various positions until February 2015 when he became its manager, succeeding his uncle Patrick Ricard, who died suddenly, and Pierre Pringuet. who is retiring. He will be hired in the group seven years later, years that he puts to good use by training in finance, notably at Accenture and Morgan Stanley, becoming familiar with mergers and acquisitions, among other things.


When he left, Pierre Pringuet had just begun a new phase in the life of the group, which was to lead to profound transformations. By taking the position, Alexandre Ricard will concretize this policy and modify in depth the organization by resolutely directing the life of the group on the consumer. Everything must be thought out to anticipate or create desire among customers.

He has launched a few projects that are particularly close to his heart, such as the group’s digital transformation, a natural trend for “Alex”, a technology fan. He knows that we have to move quickly in this sector, which directly impacts sales and turnover, but also human resources. The second project that Alexandre Ricard highlights is the continuation of the internationalization of the group, the second strategic axis. The third pillar of its acceleration policy is to go further on the top of the range, a segment that continues to grow globally.


The name is not everything. It can also be misleading if we consider the current activity of the group, which no longer revolves around the famous Ricard, even if the brand remains a historical French jewel in the same way as Pernod. To illustrate the change, it suffices to recall that in 1975, almost 90% of the group’s activity was carried out on French territory. Today, the situation has completely reversed. More than 90% of the turnover is achieved outside France thanks to an extraordinarily large portfolio of international brands, including GH Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo, Absolut Vodka, Chivas, Ballantines, Malibu, etc.

Furthermore, Pernod-Ricard’s distribution network has been recognized by professionals as one of the best for decades. Having gone through this company is a guarantee of professionalism for a salesperson. Suffice to say that this CAC 40 group seems to be at the height of its glory, but Alexandre Ricard continues to pursue innovation and growth, while looking closely at certain issues impacting the present and the future, such as global warming and digital data protection.


The niche in which Pernod-Ricard is located is experiencing good progress, the very precious moment of the aperitif is more than promising, and totally associated with one word: conviviality. This word is one of Alexandre Ricard’s mantras, in line with Paul Ricard who used to say that “a new friendship is born every day”. It has also just inaugurated the “Conviviality Platform”, a new tool firmly rooted in the group’s digital revolution. Its purpose is to offer the right customer the right product at the right price by using in-house databases.

The absolute dream of every grower, trader and marketing professional. The system uses artificial intelligence. Algorithms are developed from data held by the group, worldwide, by experts recruited specifically for this purpose. The deployment of this solution is in progress and will take several more years.


Under the aegis of Alexandre Ricard, the group has just acquired a majority stake in Château Sainte-Marguerite in Provence. The group is already in wine, and has just bought a vineyard in the Sonoma region of California. However, the share of wine turnover remains quite negligible to date. The choice of rosé was essential, because it is also consumed in the group’s favorite places, those where its brands of champagnes, whiskies, vodkas and tequilas are already distributed, fashionable places all over the world where the rosé is gradually taking its place, particularly in France and the United States. And in addition, it fits perfectly with the Provençal origins of the group.


“The tyranny of short-termism”, here is a defect that does not exist in this family group, a characteristic claimed by Alexandre Ricard who highlights the freedom of action he has compared to some other big names in the CAC 40. .

“Creating the conditions for a large family well beyond blood ties”, such is his ambition, which he symbolically concretizes by installing his new office in an open space in order to illustrate the non-formalism and the ease manager’s access. A way to bring his vision of conviviality to life within the group. This principle has found its symbol in “the Island”, the brand new Parisian headquarters and meeting place for the various entities of the group.


Today number 2 in the world, the Pernod-Ricard group aims to become the leader, relying on the values ​​of the group, in particular the essential conviviality, team spirit, know-how, respect for the terroirs, innovation. A great challenge for Pernod-Ricard, but the year that has just ended highlights a growth in turnover of 21%!

Anne Florin

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How the heir to the Ricard group succeeded in his crazy bet

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