Upmarket drinks selling well, but Guinness is serving up flat
The UK is splashing out on upmarket spirits like Ciroc vodka – a favoured tipple of Prince Harry – even as Guinness sales struggle, the world's biggest drinks company has said.
The blue-chip's UK sales were flat in the year to June but a 14% rise in luxury brands like Ciroc, and Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve proved a stark contrast to a 3% fall in sales of the black stuff.
The Ciroc 'halo' – when a bottle served at a table in a gleaming metal ring is rocked to pour the vodka into the glass – is a feature of London nightclubs such as Mahiki, the Rose Club and Zuma.
Chief financial officer Deirdre Mahlan said: "The clubs in the biggest cities around the world are the ones where we want our brands positioned."
Diageo's Johnnie Walker whisky is now selling 20 million cases a year, with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Platinum retailing at £66.
"Even in difficult times consumers look for affordable luxuries," Mahlan added.
Guinness – mainly drunk in pubs – is struggling with a "difficult macro backdrop", she said.
Across the island of Ireland, country director Michael McCann reported growth for Bushmills, distilled in the town, and Baileys, made in Mallusk.
He said: "Exports of Guinness, Baileys and Bushmills are positive for the Irish economy and the Irish export market – 70% of Guinness, 85% of Bushmills and 90% of Baileys is exported."