The world’s biggest whisky producer hailed a strong performance from Scotland’s national drink as it toasted a jump in overall sales and profits.
Diageo said global net sales of Scotch grew by 3% during the six months to December 31, helping first half pre-tax profits increase by more than 6% to £2.2billion. Group sales lifted by more than 3% to about £9.9billion.
The figures included a 7% rise in organic net sales of Johnnie Walker, the world’s top-selling Scotch. Results were also boosted by strong demand for Diageo’s gins, including Gordon’s.
John Kennedy, president of Diageo in Europe, Russia, Turkey and India, said Scotch sales representing 27% of total group revenue were up in all regions of the world, except Africa.This vindicated hefty recent investment – about £1billion over the past couple of years – by Diageo in Scotch whisky-making, he added.
Last October, Diageo announced £35million plans to bring the distilleries at Brora and Port Ellen back into production for the first time in 34 years by 2020. Mr Kennedy said the London-based firm’s focus in Scotland was currently on these two “jewels”, while the long-term prospects for sustainable growth across the wider industry were good. He added: “There are very positive trends for whisky globally, which has given us confidence to invest.”
Net sales of “primary” whisky brands grew by 8%, while exports to mainland Europe and North America grew by 2% and 4% respectively. The firm said the prospects for Scotch in China were bright, thanks to favourable demographics and rising incomes.
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