Diageo toasts sales growth

THE world’s biggest spirits makers Diageo and Pernod Ricard beat forecasts yesterday with strong sales growth in the first three months of 2011 as buoyant emerging market growth offset a weak Europe.

Diageo, the maker of Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky, reported its third-quarter January to March underlying sales rose seven per cent.

Meanwhile, French rival and world number two Pernod, which makes Absolut vodka, said quarterly underlying sales rose five per cent.

Analysts had pencilled in a 2.5 per cent increase. The figures mark a continued improvement in trade, which picked up in 2010 after suffering throughout most of 2009 when the global downturn prompted consumers to move to cheaper drinks and wholesalers to use up stocks rather than make new orders.