Staff at French spirits maker Pernod Ricard drink ’12 shots a day and go on three-day binges’

French spirits company Pernod Ricard is facing allegations its employees are pressured to drink at work and go on three-day binges.

Three sales staff, including one who still works at the drinks giant, have claimed bosses constantly push workers into knocking back up to 12 glasses of alcohol a day. 

Some suffered hallucinations and even drove home drunk, according to French newspaper Le Parisien

Pastis aniseed flavoured liqueur (seen above) is made by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard. The company is facing allegations bosses pressured sale staff to drink at work

Pastis aniseed flavoured liqueur (seen above) is made by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard. The company is facing allegations bosses pressured sale staff to drink at work

Pastis aniseed flavoured liqueur (seen above) is made by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard. The company is facing allegations bosses pressured sale staff to drink at work

How Pernod Ricard, that started as a collaboration between two of France’s most popular drinks, became the world’s second biggest spirit group

The a-listed company was founded in 1975 after two rival beverages, Maison Pernod Fils and long drink Ricard, merged.

It is the second biggest spirits group behind Diageo.

In 2015/16, the group reported €8.68 million (£7.4 million) sales and more than 18,500 employees.

It all started with Absinthe producer Pernod Fils that was founded by French distiller Henri-Louis Pernod in 1805.

When absinthe was banned in 1915, the company merged with pastis company Ricard, that was one of France’s most popular drinks at the time, and Pernod Ricard was born.

From that point onwards, the company  continued to grow.

In 1988 they acquired Irish Distillers, the company that produces Jameson Irish Whiskey.

They also acquired Orlando Wyndham – the producer of Jacob’s Creek wine – Yerevan Brandy Company, Allied Domecq and in 2008 the V&S Group, that makes Absolut Vodka. 

Pernod Ricard has sold products it did not see as having a strategic value for it, such as the Domecq brandy and sherry business, and more recently Graffigna Argentine wines.

The effects of such a gruelling drinking culture caused one former salesman to become ill, it was claimed by the whistleblowers.

He filed a complaint about the drinks manufacturer in the French labour courts in September, saying his health had been damaged by excessive drinking after going to nightclubs and bars promoting the product. 

Another salesman, who has since left the company, claimed he was drinking 12 glasses of the strong liqueur a day while working at the firm and frequently drove while drunk. 

One ex-employee known only as Julien, 42, who was a manager in southern France, claimed he was ‘drunk every day’ at work.  

The a-listed company was founded in 1975 after two rival beverages, Maison Pernod Fils and long drink Ricard, merged.

It has acquired multiple other alcohol producers since, including the V&S Group that makes Absolut Vodka. 

It has now become the second biggest spirits group behind Diageo. 

A catalogue of employees at the aniseed pastis-maker have since reportedly come forward, alleging a ‘culture of drinking’. 

They would also allegedly be expected to sample the product, which can be between 40 and 45 per cent proof, with clients. 

These drinking session would take place at lunchtime, in the evenings and even after meetings, one ex-salesman told Le Parisien. 

Some would allegedly drink so much they claimed they would suffer hallucinations and hear voices.

To avoid drinking so much an unnamed female employee said she would tip alcohol into nearby plant pots so her colleagues would think she downed the drinks.

She told the newspaper: ‘It’s the company’s culture. If you say no, you’re not very well thought of. People would say, ”what are you complaining about? You’re being paid to party”.’ 

Pernod Ricard group's vice-president and General Director Pierre Pringuet pictured (above) in 2013

Pernod Ricard group's vice-president and General Director Pierre Pringuet pictured (above) in 2013

Pernod Ricard group’s vice-president and General Director Pierre Pringuet pictured (above) in 2013

After returning to work when her GP signed her off sick, she claims she was told by her manager: ‘You’ll have a Ricard? Go on, don’t p*** everyone off, you’re not working at Perrier.’

Another former colleague said he reported his concerns to bosses after finding a drunk colleague ‘drooling in his car’ and another in an ‘alcoholic coma’, but managers were not shocked. 

Emmanuel Vouin, a spokeswoman for Pernod Ricard, denied the accusations, saying drinking was a ‘personal decision’ to drink.

Staff at the drinks giant Pernod Ricard complained of being pressured into drinking up to 12 shots at work

Staff at the drinks giant Pernod Ricard complained of being pressured into drinking up to 12 shots at work

Staff at the drinks giant Pernod Ricard complained of being pressured into drinking up to 12 shots at work 

She added: ‘There is no culture of alcohol, no order, no incitement in any form to drink.’  

The employment tribunal ruling is expected at the end of this month.

Similar allegations were made in 2011 when French journalist, Max Coder, alleged staff were forced to consume alcohol to boost sales figures.

As part of the recruitment process, some job applicants were forced to drink ten to 20 shots at the company, bar, it was alleged. 

The firm later lost a libel court case over the claims made in the book, Legal Dealer.

Pastis is a yellow cloudy drunk, usually had as an aperitif and mixed with water. It is hugely popular in France, especially in southern areas.

It as created from the Pernod Fils firm that produced absinthe – the drink of choice for Toulouse Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde. 

Pernod Ricard is the biggest manufacturer of the drink with an annual revenue of €8 billion.

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