While overall, the maker of Bushmills, Baileys and Guinness Diageo has warned that conditions were "more challenging" following slower growth in its Christmas quarter, sales rose 1.8% across the half-year to December 31 – weaker than the growth rate of 2.2% at the end of the first quarter.
Across the group, operating profits before one-off items were 3% higher at £2.1bn in the six months to December 31.
Irish spirits and liqueur brands performed well in the half due to the continued momentum of Baileys in Greater China, with net sales up 37% and Bushmills in Russia and Eastern Europe, with net sales up 22%.
Innovation in both brands was also an important driver of growth, with Bushmills Honey and Baileys Chocolat Luxe performing well in Western Europe. In Ireland, innovation sales grew 40%.
Globally, Bushmills sales were up 13%. Baileys, which increased global net sales by 1%, continued to grow in Asia Pacific, while in North America growth was driven by the success of the Baileys Vanilla Cinnamon launch and the campaign 'The most Stylish Shot of the Night'.
Globally, Guinness net sales declined by 1%, driven by weakness in Nigeria, Guinness' number one market by net sales in the last financial year, and Ireland.
The Nigerian market was impacted by an overall beer market decline as consumers continued to be drawn to value offerings, particularly in lager, as disposable incomes were under increased pressure.
But Guinness performed well in East Africa, growing 23%. Guinness also performed well in North America and South East Asia.
In Ireland the overall beer market continued to decline across all channels and net sales were down 6%. Guinness net sales also declined 6% mainly due to the warm summer. Guinness does however hold a market share of 32.04%, equating to one in every three pints consumed in a pub being a pint of Guinness.