Pernod Ricard range

Pernod said the acquisition was in line with its consumer-centric strategy and growing focus on e-commerce and premium products

French drinks giant Pernod Ricard has acquired online retailer The Whisky Exchange for an undisclosed sum.

Founded by brothers Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh in 1999, the London-headquartered business sells a catalogue of about 10,000 products online and in its three stores in the capital at Covent Garden, Great Portland Street and London Bridge.

As well as offering 4,000 whiskies, The Whisky Exchange sells 400 champagnes, 800 cognacs and armagnacs, 700 rums, 600 gins, 300 aperitifs and 400 tequilas and mezcal.

It has also expanded its activities to on-trade supply and engages in private sales and online auctions of rare spirits, which the business plans to develop further with help from new owner Pernod.

The Whisky Exchange generated revenues of more than £70m a year, but growth was held back in 2020 by the Covid pandemic as its three London stores were forced to close and tourists disappeared from London.

Pernod, which owns the likes of The Glenlivet Scotch, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Chivas Regal, Martell Cognac, Havana Club Rum, Beefeater Gin and Absolut Vodka, said the acquisition was in line with its consumer-centric strategy and growing focus on e-commerce and premium products.

The French group added it would leverage synergies between The Whisky Exchange’s expertise and its in-house platforms such as Drinks&Co and Bodeboca.

Earlier this month, Pernod reported a recovery in revenues and profits as the hospitality industry emerged from lockdown. Sales at the group jumped almost 10% to €8.8bn (£7.6bn) in the 2021 financial year, with full-year profits up 18% to €2.4bn.

Pernod CEO and chairman Alexandre Ricard said: “E-commerce is a key channel in our long-term strategy. We are thrilled to work with industry pioneers such as Sukhinder, Rajbir and the whole team to bring The Whisky Exchange to a new step of its development.”

The Whisky Exchange will continue to operate with its current team and structure, with Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh managing the business as joint MDs.

The brothers added in a joint statement that after 20 years of building the business they were “delighted” to take it to the next level under Pernod Ricard.

“The Whisky Exchange and our customers have always felt like a family, and we are looking forward to maintaining this ethos with a partner that shares our values,” the pair said.

“Our mission remains the same: to offer the finest range of whiskies and spirits from the best producers around the world, educate and engage with consumers, and support the top on-trade establishments around the UK.”

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions.