Diageo has reported net sales in Great Britain grew by 2% for the six months ending December 31 2019.

Dayalan Nayager, managing director, Diageo Great Britain, said: “Net sales in GB in the half grew by 2%. This was mainly driven by good performances from Guinness, which grew 6%, Baileys and Captain Morgan, partly offset by a decline in Gordon’s on the back of strong innovation in the first half of the year.

“We continued our partnership with Taste Festivals, Johnnie Walker had a residency at Pop Brixton London which tapped into the trend for long drinks and Tanqueray welcomed thousands of visitors to an immersive experience at Tanqueray Townhouse at Bloomsbury House.

“Baileys strong performance was driven by focused promotional activity. Over the festive period our ‘Baileys Treat Bar’ returned to London for the third year running and we introduced Baileys limited edition ‘Red Velvet’ to GB consumers for the first time.

 “Captain Morgan also grew due to strong on-trade performance. In October our limited-edition ‘Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced’ variety hit the shelves and bar menus, tapping into key flavour trends during the festive period. In beer, Guinness Draught grew in the on-trade and benefited from digital activations targeting specific after-work occasions. One in every 10 pints served in London is now a Guinness. 

 “In November we acquired Tipplesworth, targeting the growing cocktail market in GB, and I’m excited to see our taps starting to appear in bars across the country, enabling quality draught cocktails to be served at speed and scale.

 “I’m delighted that Diageo GB was recognised as the number one business in the UK for gender equality for the second year in a row by Equileap. As part of our ongoing efforts to promote positive drinking, sustainability and inclusivity our Rainbow Network returned to London Pride in July, sharing information on responsible drinking and 20,000 cans of water with the crowds.”

Overall, Diageo reported net sales increased 4.2% to £7.2 billion with operating profit rising 0.5% to £2.4 billion, with organic growth partially offset by “adverse exchange, exceptional operating items and acquisitions and disposals”.

Chief executive Ivan Menzies said: “Diageo has delivered another good, consistent set of results in the first half, with broad based organic net sales growth across regions and categories.

“We have continued to increase investment behind marketing and growth initiatives, while expanding organic operating margins. During the half, we returned £1.1 billionn to shareholders via share buybacks, as part of our plan to return up to £4.5 billion of capital to shareholders for the period FY20 to FY22.

“We have also delivered another half of solid free cash flow at almost £1 billion. “These results reflect the changes we are making in the business to drive shifts in our culture. They are in line with our current mid-term guidance and have been delivered in the face of increased levels of volatility in India, Latin America and Caribbean and travel retail.

“For the full year, we therefore expect organic net sales growth to be towards the lower end of our 4% to 6% mid-term guidance range. We continue to expect organic operating profit to grow roughly one percentage point ahead of organic net sales. “There is ongoing uncertainty in the global trade environment and we would not be immune from further policy changes.

“We remain focused on building the long-term health of our brands, supported by data-led insights and a culture of everyday efficiency. With the consumer at the heart of the business and with greater agility and discipline in the execution of our strategy, we are growing Diageo in a consistent, sustainable way.”