(Boursier.com) -- Patrick Ricard, Chairman of French alcoholic-beverage giant Pernod Ricard, died unexpectedly on Friday aged 67. The group announced : "The Family, the Board of Directors and the General Management of Pernod Ricard have the sad duty to inform you of the sudden death of Patrick Ricard, which occurred today. The staff of SA Paul Ricard as well as the 18.000 employees of Pernod Ricard group share the grief of the famil".
Patrick Ricard died at Sainte-Anne hospital in the southern town of Toulon, where he was taken Friday afternoon after a heart attack on the nearby family-owned island of Bendor (Var).
In 1967, Patrick Ricard joined the Ricard company, founded by his father Paul in 1932. He held successive positions in the company's main departments, becoming Managing Director in 1972. With the creation of Pernod Ricard in 1975 he was appointed Group Managing Director and then, in 1978, Chairman and CEO.
Patrick Ricard was the architect of the Group's ambitious strategy of growth through acquisition, aimed at broadening the product range and accelerating the development of the international business. Patrick Ricard's acquisitions included Campbell Distillers in Scotland, Austin Nichols in the USA, Ramazzotti in Italy, Irish Distillers (bringing together all the producers of Irish whiskey) and Orlando Wyndham in Australia. It was also his decision to create Havana Club International in Cuba. The pace picked up in 2000 with the acquisition of part of Seagram's wine and spirit business, and again in 2005 with the buy-out of competitor Allied Domecq. In 2008, the Group continues his external growth with the acquisition of the Swedish Group Vin & Sprit. The Group adds several prestige brands to its portfolio, becomes a major player in the United States and reaches the rank as the world's co-leader in Wines & Spirits.
Despite such exceptional growth, the Group's guiding operational principle -decentralisation- has remained unchanged. Maintaining this management style throughout its acquisitions has helped new employees integrate quickly and empowered managers. The strategy proved a resounding success, sales outside France now accounting for 90% of turnover as against 17% when the Group was formed. Pernod Ricard has doubled in size every 7 years since its formation.
This exemplary record led American magazine Fortune to name Patrick Ricard 'European Businessman of the Year' in 2006.
Since November 2008, Patrick Ricard has resigned his executive duties at the head of Pernod Ricard but remains Chairman of the Board of Directors.
A tribute to Patrick Ricard would happen in the coming days and funeral details will be provided shortly.
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