Business

Diageo sales slip but brands rebound; Bulleit sales up 29 percent

Old bourbon barrels of Bulleit Bourbon sat on display at Stitzel Weller in Louisville in 2015.
Old bourbon barrels of Bulleit Bourbon sat on display at Stitzel Weller in Louisville in 2015. William DeShazer

British-based Diageo, the parent of Bulleit bourbon, last week reported that net sales for the year that ended June 30 declined 3 percent to $11.8 billion because of adverse exchange rates and the sale of Bushmills and Gleneagles in 2015 and other brands in 2016.

However, underlying organic sales grew 2.8 percent, with gains in almost region, the company said, and earnings per share increased slightly.

“This is a good set of results delivering what we set out to achieve this time last year and demonstrating our momentum,” said CEO Ivan Menezes in a statement. “Our six global brands and our U.S. spirits business are all back in growth, and we have seen a significant improvement in the performance of our scotch and beer portfolios.”

Diageo’s six “global giants” — Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff vodka, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray and Guinness — grew a collective 3 percent and make up 40 percent of the company’s net sales.

U.S. spirit sales grew by 3 percent, with North American whiskey sales up 6 percent. Crown Royal and Bulleit both gained market share. Crown Royal sales were up 6 percent; Regal Apple net sales were up 15 percent. Bulleit bourbon net sales were up 29 percent.

Diageo is building a $115 million distillery in Shelby County to produce Bulleit bourbon. The distillery is scheduled to begin producing whiskey later this year.

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