Patrick Ricard passed away suddenly on 17 August 2012 after a heart attack at the Ricard family island of Bendor. He was taken to hospital in Toulon, France, in the afternoon of the same day that he died. He was 67 years old and is survived by his wife and and three children.
Born in 1945, Patrick was the son of Paul Ricard who invented Pastis, the aniseed-flavoured liqueur popular in France in 1932. His successor on the Board of Pernod Ricard is yet to be named. Pernod Ricard is the world’s second biggest spirits group after Diageo.
Ricard was one of the two companies that merged to form Pernod Ricard in 1975.
Patrick Ricard, held the positions of chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard from 1978 until 2008, when he resigned as CEO. Pierre Pringuet succeeded him but Patrick retained his seat on the Board as chairman.
Under his stewardship the French alco-bev company grew by leaps and bounds. It was during his tenure that Pernod Ricard made its presence felt in the industry by going on a major acquisition drive. The company bought Irish Distillers makers of Jameson whiskey, Allied Domecq makers of Mumm and Perrier-Jouet champagnes and the Swedish group Vin & Spirit who owned Absolut Vodka.
His acquisition of Absolut was questioned at the time as it was thought to be overpriced. But Patrick Ricard declared that Absolut would be ‘available only once’ and went ahead. He would have been vindicated as the debt is almost paid off with the company due to announce its annual earnings on August 30, showing remarkable growth of “close to 8%” this financial year.
Other acquisitions under Ricard included Campbell Distillers, Austin Nichols in the US, Ramazzotti in Italy and Orlando Wyndham. Patrick also created the Havana Club International in Cuba producers of the famous rum. Another landmark business decision was the partnership with Diageo to take over Seagram which brought him the Chivas Regal brand and a truly global presence.
He believed in decentralisation of management and his philosophy was “Global reach, local control”. Formerly known as Seagram India, Pernod Ricard India was the first multinational to produce wine in India, with vineyards in the Sahyadri range in Nashik.
According to the company’s website, Pernod Ricard has doubled in size every seven years since its formation. Named European Businessman of the Year in 2007 by Fortune magazine, Ricard received numerous honours including Commander of the Legion of Honour and Knight of the National Order of Merit from the French government.