Diageo, the parent company of Bulleit, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness, reported net sales of $11.8 billion for the year that ended June 30. Net sales were up 5 percent, but organic sales growth was essentially flat, hurt by lagging North American sales.
Diageo recently announced that chief financial officer Deirdre Mahlan will become the new head of the North America division. The company also is under scrutiny from the SEC for allegedly inflating sales figures.
Sales of leading brands Johnnie Walker scotch, Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan rum were down by double digits in the United States, but Bulleit bourbon sales were up a reported 41 percent, making it the fastest-growing unflavored North American whiskey, according to the company. Diageo is building a $115 million Bulleit Distillery in Shelbyville.
Another big winner: Crown Royal, with flavored variant Regal Apple becoming the top-selling innovation last year according to Nielsen, Diageo said.
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But outside of a few bright spots, the sales picture for Diageo, which has been troubled in recent years, wasn't rosy.
Organic European sales as a whole were flat, Latin American and Caribbean sales were down 1 percent, Asia Pacific sales were down 2 percent, and sales in Africa up 6 percent, Diageo said.
Diageo reported profits for the year of almost $2.7 billion, up 13 percent, with diluted earnings per share up 6 percent.
"Our (fiscal 2015) performance reflects the challenges we have seen on top-line growth," CEO Ivan Menezes said in a statement. "However, it does not diminish my confidence in what we can achieve in (fiscal 2016) and even more so beyond that. ... We acquired control of United Spirits (in India) in the year giving Diageo unparalleled access to one of the world's most attractive spirits markets. We have enhanced our position in tequila by acquiring the remaining 50 percent of Don Julio (tequila), a brand that is already growing net sales double digit and for which I see significant potential now (that) we have full control."
Menezes predicted stronger volume growth in 2016, with "mid-single-digit organic top-line growth" in 2017.