Guinness sales in Nigeria prove greater than in its Irish home

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The Independent Online

Nigeria has overtaken Ireland for the first time as the second biggest market for Guinness. As sales stagnate in the beer's home market, its maker, Diageo, has invested in promoting the brand overseas, where sales grew 15 per cent during the year to 30 June.

Guinness was first launched in Africa in 1827, and has been brewed in Nigeria since 1963. Sales started to rocket on the back of a television advertising campaign that Diageo launched in November last year to capitalise on the growth of the aspirant middle class. Diageo credits the "phenomenal sales growth" to the success of the marketing campaign.

The news came as the world's biggest alcoholic drinks maker posted a 13 per cent rise in annual earnings and raised its guidance for organic operating profits growth in the 2008 financial year to 9 per cent. Reported operating profits rose 5.6 per cent to £2.16bn, driven by "star performers" Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys and Guinness. Sales of Johnnie Walker rose by 2 million cases to more than 15 million and generated sales of almost £1bn, while Smirnoff added 1 million cases and sold more than 23 million.

The chief executive of Diageo, Paul Walsh, said there has been "a renaissance in Scotch whisky over the past couple of years", spearheaded by Johnnie Walker as the world's No 1 brand.

He added that Guinness had done "extremely well in Africa and also Korea". "This shows that the footprint of Guinness is shifting from its traditional markets of Ireland and Great Britain and expanding further afield into emerging markets," he said.

He added Diageo has "used the new medium of TV to reach them". The Guinness Greatness campaign has the catchline: "There's a drop of greatness in every man ..." Diageo says there isn't a particular awareness that Guinness is an Irish drink across the continent. Instead, the campaign taps into a growing sense of cultural pride and confidence in Africa.

Across Africa, Guinness volumes increased 13 per cent over the year. In Nigeria, sales increased 18 per cent, while across East Africa sales jumped 32 per cent. This contrasts to Ireland, where Guinness volumes declined 9 per cent, while net sales fell 7 per cent. Rather than a fall in popularity of the Irish brew, Diageo puts this down to changing social trends. Consumers drink a wider range of drinks and are starting to drink more at home rather than in pubs and bars, a trend acerbated by the smoking ban.

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