Diageo has reported net sales up 2% in the UK for H1 with reserve brands up 50%.

The company said global sales for the six months to 31 December were broadly (-0.1%) with volume down 1.9%. It said Q2 had seen performance improve.

In Great Britain the company said growth was driven by a surge in ready to drink and reserve brands.

It said: “Innovation, including the launches of Haig Club and Cîroc Amaretto, and increased consumer focused activations such as the Global World Class Finals in London last summer and the London cocktail week, were the main drivers of the 50% net sales growth in reserve brands.

“In the more price competitive standard segment, Captain Morgan and Baileys performed well with net sales up 6% and 2% respectively.  Smirnoff net sales were flat, as it lapped the launch of Smirnoff Gold last year but with good performance from Smirnoff Red, which was up 3% and gained share.  Net sales in beer were down 2% as Guinness was impacted by weakness in the on trade, however it maintained share.  Ready to drink net sales were up 23% principally driven by Captain Morgan Original Spiced,  Gordon’s & Tonic  and Gordon’s Slimline & Tonic.”

In Ireland net sales were 2% down, which the company said was largely driven by the transfer of sales of wines to Diageo Wines Europe which was worth 2pps of growth.  Guinness net sales were up 1%, growing after more than six years of decline.  Diageo said the growth came from increased focus on execution in the on trade, partially offset by softness in spirits following last year’s duty increase.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes said: “We have improved our performance during the half and we have again shown: the strength of our brands, which is driving our share gains; our strong innovation capability, which has enabled us to access new growth opportunities; and our focus on cost.  We delivered the planned savings from our global efficiency programme together with procurement benefits in marketing spend which we have reinvested in our brands and we increased our investment in our routes to consumer while again expanding our margins.

“We have already taken action to improve the performance of those brands and markets that have not performed as well as we would expect.  This contributed to our stronger second quarter performance and I expect to maintain this momentum through the year.

“The half saw Diageo acquire control of USL, putting us in the position to create an iconic leader in spirits in an attractive market.  We have also reached agreement to acquire all of Don Julio, which will significantly strengthen our position in one of our fastest growing categories.

“The quality of these results in a tough environment, with depletions ahead of shipments and improving cash flow, reinforce my confidence that Diageo can realise its full potential and deliver our performance ambition.”