NEWS
12/02/2019 15:01 GMT | Updated 12/02/2019 15:57 GMT

We’re Stockpiling Vodka For ‘Nightmare’ No-Deal Brexit, Pernod Ricard Says

But Brits *won’t* necessarily hit the bottle after Britain leaves the EU, alcohol boss predicts.

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Stocks of Absolut Vodka are being stockpiled to cope with a 'nightmare' no-deal Brexit.

Vodka and red wine are being stockpiled in Britain by one of the world’s biggest booze firms to help it cope with a “nightmare” no-deal Brexit.

Absolut and Campo Viejo are among the brands being stashed by French alcohol giant Pernod Ricard, the firm said on Tuesday.

Pernod’s UK boss David Haworth said additional stocks of the spirit were being shipped from Åhus, Sweden, while Tempranillo was being trucked from Logrono, Spain.

Pernod, which exports Beefeater gin from London and Ballantine’s whisky from Scotland, among other brands, said it was also ramping up domestic production as the risk of no-deal increased.

Haworth said: “We have a very short-term plan of increasing the stock levels… we don’t want to be out of stock, that’s for sure.

“We’ve got contingency plans already in place for that.”

Asked how drinkers might respond to Britain’s exit from the EU in March, Haworth said: “Quite frankly, I don’t think they are going to hit the bottle, but I don’t think they’ll stop drinking either.

“I think at the moment, if you said to me what is the mood, I’d say that [in bars], there’s a slowdown.”

He added that while sales in off-licences and supermarkets remained strong, recent sales in licensed premises had declined.

“I think there’s a lot of consumer uncertainty at the moment before they go out and spend money [in bars],” Haworth said.

At a London press conference, the boss of Pernod’s Scotch business, Jean-Christophe Coutures, described a no-deal Brexit as a “nightmare” and “the worst possible thing that could happen”.

“We need stability in the way that we move forward, we are in a position where we need stability,” Coutures said.

“We believe we are in a good position to deal with the short-term nightmare of what no-deal Brexit will generate,” he added. “Long-term… it is very difficult to anticipate how this will evolve.”

The company’s warning over no-deal contrasts with its rival Diageo, the world’s largest spirits producer and owner of Smirnoff and Guinness, which recently said a disorderly exit from the EU would not “materially impact” its business.

While alcohol firms, including Diageo, have said they believe changes to trade rules triggered by no-deal are manageable, the movement of goods remains an issue.

There are concerns that a disorderly no-deal scenario would create problems bringing goods into the UK, potentially leaving stock levels of products, such as Swedish vodka and Spanish red wine, dwindling as shops and bars are not replenished on time.

Some companies have stepped up efforts to mitigate delays at the border, including by changing routes to quieter ports in the north of England and Scotland.