LONDON (Reuters) - Drinks giant Diageo said the future of its Guinness beer lies outside its traditional markets of Britain and Ireland as the Irish stout returned to worldwide volume growth for the first time in five years.
Growth of the dark beer in Africa, especially Nigeria, helped global volumes climb 2 percent in Diageo’s financial year to end-June 2007 with sales 3 percent ahead, and Chief Executive Paul Walsh sees its future growth coming from Africa and Asia.
“Outside its two core markets of Britain and Ireland, Guinness is in good health and the brand’s future is there,” he told a briefing after Diageo’s full-year results.
Sales in Britain fell 3 percent and in Ireland by 7 percent in the year to June, while Diageo’s international region, which covers Africa and Asia, saw sales rise 15 percent. Nigeria pushed aside Ireland to be the beer’s No 2 market after Britain.
“Guinness sales were up 17 percent in Africa offsetting declining sales in Britain and Ireland while the brand is expanding in Africa, Korea and India,” Walsh added.
Beer accounts for around 10 percent of Diageo’s profits and Guinness around half of that. Four major markets - Britain, Ireland, the United States and Nigeria - account for some 60 percent of Guinness volume, with the first two over 40 percent.
Earlier, Diageo, the world’s biggest alcoholic drinks group and maker of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, posted a 13 percent rise in annual earnings to 55.4 pence a share, and raised its target for future profits growth.