The world’s second-largest spirits group by sales – after Diageo – said it expected demand in China to start improving only from the second half of the year, which ends in June 2014.
China is its second-largest market after the United States, accounting for 12 per cent of sales.
“We expect a difficult first half in China,” finance chief Gilles Bogaert admitted.
“From the second half we should have more favourable comparables and we could see a gradual improvement. But there are still uncertainties over the pace of the recovery.”
Pernod, which has expanded in emerging markets to offset slow sales in austerity-hit Europe, relies on Asia for about 46 per cent of its profits.
Pernod achieved sales of €2.013bn (£1.7bn) in the quarter, a like-for-like decline of one per cent and down from the five per cent growth in the fourth quarter 2012-13.
In western Europe, there was a strong performance in Germany, Britain and France, Pernod said. But Spain was still difficult and hit by an increase in excise duty in July 2013 of 10 per cent.