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Diageo’s U.S. Sales Rise 6%, With Tequila, Whiskies Driving Gains

January 30, 2020

Dynamic growth in the Tequila and whisk(e)y categories drove strong sales gains for Diageo in its fiscal first half through December, as the company’s North America unit posted revenues up 6% on an organic basis to £2.5 billion ($3.3b), and operating profit up 5% to £1.1 billion ($1.4b). Diageo’s core U.S. spirits business also rose 6%, broadly in line with depletions.

In the U.S., the Don Julio and Casamigos Tequila brands have been propelling progress, combining for 35% growth in the first half. Crown Royal is also powering ahead, with net sales up 11% during the period due to ongoing growth for its Regal Apple offering as well as its limited-edition Peach extension. Diageo says it’s continuing to back Crown Royal with a robust marketing agenda after upweighting its spend last year. Overall, Diageo North America boosted its marketing by 6% in the first half to £404 million ($529m).

Among other whiskies, Buchanan’s saw net sales climb 9% and single malts like Oban and Lagavulin continued to rise, but Johnnie Walker declined by 3% after lapping last year’s successful White Walker launch. Still, more recent extensions “A Song of Ice” and “A Song of Fire” have performed well so far, the company added. In American whiskey, Bulleit slowed to 4% net sales growth in the first half, although Diageo says it has continued to gain market share.

The U.S. vodka category remains challenging for Diageo, with net sales down 5%, as Ketel One (-3%) and Cîroc (-9%) both declined. Smirnoff, however, showed “strong price/mix growth due to a reduction in promotional volume,” the company noted, and has benefited from the promising launch of its Zero Sugar Infusions extension, with net sales flat for the six-month period. Among other key brands, Captain Morgan rose 1%, Baileys jumped 7% with the help of its Red Velvet offshoot, and Guinness advanced by 4%.

Globally, Diageo posted net sales up 4% to £7.2 billion ($9.4b) and operating profit up 5% to £2.5 billion ($3.3b). For the full fiscal year, Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes said the company expects sales growth to fall at the lower end of its 4%-6% guidance, with global economic conditions and trade disputes potentially weighing on the business. “There is ongoing uncertainty in the global trade environment and we would not be immune from further policy changes,” Menezes said.—Daniel Marsteller


Diageo’s Key Brands in the U.S.
(millions of 9-liter case depletions)
Calendar Year Percent
Brand1 Origin/Type 2018 2019E Change3
Smirnoff Domestic Vodka 9.04 8.80 -2.7%
Crown Royal Canadian Whisky 6.32 6.80 7.5
Captain Morgan Virgin Islands Rum 5.63 5.45 -3.4
Ketel One Imported Vodka 2.31 2.40 3.8
Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky 1.91 1.85 -3.0
Baileys Imported Liqueur 1.41 1.50 6.1
Bulleit Bourbon/Rye 1.34 1.42 6.2
Ciroc Imported Vodka 1.52 1.38 -9.0
Tanqueray Imported Gin 1.39 1.38 -0.4
Don Julio Tequila 0.74 0.92 23.5
Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky 0.55 0.55 0.5
Casamigos Tequila 0.33 0.45 35.0
Total Key Diageo Brands2 32.48 32.87 1.2%
1 includes flavors

2 addition of columns may not agree due to rounding

3 based on unrounded data

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2020

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