Diageo still sees plenty of opportunity in Africa

Diageo still sees plenty of opportunity in Africa

The head of Diageo's African operations has admitted that Nigeria's beer market is taking longer to recover than the company anticipated.

Nick Blazquez, the group's Africa, Turkey, Russia & Eastern Europe president, said that more “softness” is expected in the key market in the second half of Diageo's financial year. “I expect it will come back, but it will take a bit longer than we were expecting,” Blazquez told an analysts' conference call earlier today (6 March).

In Diageo's H1 results last month, the company said that trading in Nigeria had been “challenging”, with sales rising by only 5% year-on-year. Last month, the company revealed a change of boss at its East African Breweries subsidiary.

Blazquez later added: “The size of (Nigeria's) beer market still has some significant rate to grow.” He also flagged that the company was “capacity constrained” in the country until nine months ago.  

Conversely, Blazquez said the company's spirits growth in Nigeria is “very strong”.

Meanwhile, Diageo is benefiting from rapidly-improving infrastructure across Africa, Blazquez said, pointing to the setting up of a company finance centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

On Turkey, he acknowledged a probe by the country's competition authorities into Mey Icki. Blazquez said the company was “co-operating with the authorities” and believes it will not be found to have been acting “inappropriately”.