Most of his time will now be taken up with developing beer as a category within Diageo worldwide and Guinness will be one of his main concerns in this.
“The opportunity for Guinness is not in presenting ourselves as a craft beer but rather in appealing to consumers who are attracted to craft beers,” he told Drinks Industry Ireland in an exclusive interview (see full interview on www.drinksindustryireland.ie), “They are drawn to craft because of their motivation and desire for fuller-tasting beers made with fine ingredients and with a heritage and character. Guinness fits the bill on this and can benefit from the trend. I don’t believe that we need to represent ourselves differently to appeal to these consumers.”
In the US, for example, craft beer now accounts for nearly eight per cent of the market by value and five per cent by volume.
His new role now sees him operating in Diageo’s wider beer market on a global scale. Beer represents over 22 per cent of Diageo’s total Net Sales Value with around half of this being Guinness and the rest being made up of a series of local priority brands.
“For example we sell over a million Hectolitres of Harp in Nigeria. Tusker beer is the leading beer in Kenya, Red Stripe has a strong consumer base in the Caribbean, the US and Britain,” he says, “We see those assets and others having the opportunity to expand, too.”
Korea, for example, is a relatively new and developing market for Diageo.
“It’s growing quickly and we’re very pleased with our performance. Quite a few other markets out there have real potential that we’ll be going after in order to grow our beer business and that business will be primarily Guinness.
“But we’ll be looking at other things too because the beer category internationally is still healthy. Beer is a category that will continue to grow and continue to premiumise.”
He clearly speaks of a two-track world. Here in Europe we’re in a recession (and in Ireland we find ourselves in the eye of that recession) so the opportunities remain overseas and the omens are favourable. In the first six months of Diageo’s fiscal year Diageo’s beer sales grew in Africa, North America and in Asia Pacific.
“Europe represents about 40 per cent of our beer business and the rest of the world, the balance.
“We have to get that 40 per cent growing but also move forward on the 60 per cent where the environment for growth is much stronger. I believe that there are many opportunities for our beer business to grow into the future.”
In closing, he expresses optimism that North America will eventually emerge from recession. Indeed, there are already signs that it is doing just this, he says, “…. and we expect to grow there”.