Diageo lifted by emerging market boost

DRINKS giant Diageo yesterday attributed a rise in earnings to the growing number of middle class drinkers in emerging markets.

The company said Scotch whisky sales were soaring in Africa and Asia helping to offset overall weakness in Europe.

Operating profit in the full year jumped by five per cent to £2.8bn while earnings per share was up 16 per cent to 83.6p.

Diageo, whose brands include Guinness and Johnnie Walker, said there was “huge growth momentum” in emerging markets that it would continue to bankroll with an increase in marketing spending. Chief executive Paul Walsh said the company was not complacent and would be “eagle-eyed on costs” with unspecified cuts coming at some plants.

He added: “We will be look at mergers and acquisitions over the next three or four years if they are good value for our shareholders.” He confirmed that it would be interested in the Jose Cuervo tequila brand.

In the UK, where sales dipped slightly, the company said customers were spalshing out £30-£40 on a bottle of premium spirts as a treat.