French drinks group Pernod Ricard said full-year sales fell 27% due to negative currency rates and as its sold non-core assets to focus on wine and spirits.

For the year to December 31, the maker of Jacob's Creek wine and Jameson whiskey said turnover dropped to 3.5bn euros from 4.8bn, as it sold non-core assets such as Irish wholesaler and distributor BWG, in the wake of its joint acquisition of the Seagram drinks portfolio last year.

However, Pernod noted that organic growth for 2003 was up 5.5%.

Volumes of Jacob's Creek rose 14%, Havana Club rum 11%, Martell brandy 8% and Chivas Regal by 7%. While volumes of Ricard and Pastis 51 fell 5% and 7% respectively and suffered from the “depression of the French market”, Pernod said.

Chief executive Patrick Ricard said despite unfavourable currency rates the group expects to post a 5% rise in profit before tax and exceptionals.

He noted that group had seen a “rapid reduction” in debt for 2003, without citing any figures.

Meanwhile, Pernod said its Havana Club business had won its long-running rum trademark dispute with Bacardi.

The US patent office has dismissed Bacardi's application to cancel the Havana Club trademark in the US. This would enable Pernod's brand to be the first Cuban-origin rum Stateside, if the trade embargo between the US and Cuba is lifted.