Demand for Guinness rose strongly as pubs and bars worldwide started reopening with the easing of Covid restrictions, the stout's owner Diageo has said.
Trade was particularly strong in Ireland and in Britain, where a more than 30 per cent jump was recorded in Guinness sales in the six months to the end of the year compared with the same period in 2020.
Within spirits, vodka was particularly impressive, with sales up 21 per cent, driven by Smirnoff. Baileys and rum also grew but sales of gin declined.
Despite the strong growth, Diageo said it is feeling the pinch from growing inflationary pressures, with costs rising and supply chains remaining strained.
Finance chief Lavanya Chandrashekar said the squeeze is being felt across all parts of the business, including shipping, the cost of raw materials, and higher energy bills.
She said: “We are seeing a higher level of inflation at the business than we’ve historically seen. Utilities specifically is where we are seeing the maximum increase in inflation, with oil and energy costs being higher.”
Aluminium and cereal costs have also increased, leading to price rises in some categories.
Ms Chandrashekar said: “We don’t do pricing action across the board. We have taken price [rises] in tequila in the US by 4.5 per cent.
“We have taken some price in emerging markets . . . Nigeria and Turkey we’ve taken several rounds of pricing in these markets. It’s really on a case-by-base basis and it is done selectively in a very disciplined manner.”
Chief executive Ivan Menezes said: "While we expect near-term volatility to remain, including potential impacts from Covid-19, global supply chain constraints and rising cost inflation, I am confident in our ability to successfully navigate these disruptions through the remainder of the year."
Europe was one of the strongest regions for the global business, with sales in the area up 21 per cent to £309 million (€370 million). This also included a partial recovery in duty-free sales at airports as travel restrictions eased.
Beer sales across the continent were up 44 per cent, helped by the performance of Guinness.
Tequila was the fastest-growing drink for the business, with sales up 56 per cent as its Don Julio and Casamigos brands enjoyed rising popularity
There was also a 27 per cent jump in whisky sales, including a 31 per cent rise for Johnnie Walker.
Overall, revenues grew 12.6 per cent to £11.8 billion and pretax profits rose 24 per cent to £2.7 billion. – PA