A French drinks company – which owns 14 whisky distilleries in Scotland – has cancelled a plan to resume exporting spirits to Russia.
Pernod Ricard — headquartered in Paris — is the ultimate owner of famous malts such as The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Strathisla and Glentauchers.
The distilleries are run by its subsidiary, Chivas Brothers, which is headquartered in Paisley.
Pernod Ricard is the world’s second-largest wine and spirits seller. It stopped exporting to Russia after Ukraine was attacked, but recently announced that exports of Beefeater gin and Absolut vodka would resume, prompting criticism.
The company has now announced it will halt all exports of its brands to Russia.
The firm’s statement said existing stocks will take a few months to be sold locally.
“Pernod Ricard can confirm that it has stopped all exports of its international brands to Russia at the end of April 2023,” the company said. “We are assessing how to adapt our local organisation in light of these decisions, while fully complying with all local legal regulations.
“Since the outbreak of the war our guiding principle has been the welfare of our teams wherever they are based, and we will continue to support our local employees during this process.”
However, the Moral Rating Agency (MRA), a London-based organisation which has been highlighting western firms’ business links with Russia since the war started, said Pernod Ricard’s commitment was “unsatisfactory”.
MRA’s Mark Dixon said he would be monitoring the situation to see if Pernod Ricard keeps its promise. He added: “It was an outrageous idea to dare to restart exports to Russia. Pernod Ricard’s climbdown in the face of a public outcry is a lesson for other companies – no one should be tempted to do the same.
“Since we attacked its plan to restart supplies, it has refused to give a concrete date for a pullout and has said it may resume operations in the future. Since we don’t know when the trading will stop and when it might restart, the company is giving itself far too much wriggle room.”
Pernod Ricard’s decision underlines the growing pressure on western firms to stop operating in Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in February last year, even if the products they sell are not subject to western sanctions.
Earlier this month, Irish senator Garret Ahearn called for Pernod Ricard to be added to the EU sanctions list.
“While Russian drones and missiles rain down on Kyiv this week, our Jameson whiskey continues to quench Putin’s thirst,” he said. “Time’s up. This can’t continue.”.
The Ferret revealed in 2021 that nearly 70 per cent of Scotland’s malt distilleries were ultimately owned by companies outside Scotland including Pernod Ricard.
Chivas Brothers did not respond to our request for a comment.
Photo credit: iStock and Alfonso Soler