Diageo's NI beer sales down £25m on pre-pandemic levels

Guinness-maker Diageo has disclosed how the lockdown of the north's hospitality sector hit its beer sales in 2020/21. Picture by Liam McBurney

GUINNESS-maker Diageo has disclosed that sales of its beer in the north last year was £25 million down on pre-pandemic levels as the local hospitality sector felt the impact of Covid-19.

A new set of accounts published by the stout specialist’s northern business has highlighted the dramatic shift in drinking habits, with a significant rise in off-sales of its spirits.

Diageo’s spirit brands include Gordon’s gin, Smirnoff vodka, Baileys and Captain Morgan rum.

Diageo Northern Ireland reported beer sales of £79.7m for the 12 months ending June 30 2021, some 24 per cent below the £105m it reported for the same period in 2019.

But, sales of spirits surged by 20 per cent to £46.9m over the same period, a rise of £7.8m.

The accounts published in recent days by Companies House mark the brewer’s first full year of financial reporting here since the first Covid-19 lockdown was declared in March 2020.

Diageo Northern Ireland finished the year to June 2021 with a turnover of £126.6m, 5.5 per cent down year-on-year and 12.1 per cent behind its pre-pandemic performance.

But a substantial cut to its outgoings, coupled with the surge in spirit sales helped keep the operation in the black, with pre-tax profits actually rising 10 per cent year-on-year to £2.86m.

In commentary accompanying the accounts, the directors of Diageo Northern Ireland said following the easing of restrictions in May 2021, on-trade business had recovered by up to 90 per cent of volumes experienced in 2019.

But, they said the changes in consumer behaviour, coupled with subsequent waves of Covid post-June 2021 meant a full recovery is not anticipated in the current year (ending June 2022).

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