Diageo still regards India as a key growth area

Diageo still regards India as a key growth area

The Indian market is "incredibly important" for Diageo and its investment rates there are now double that of other regions on average, a senior executive has said. 

James Thompson, the group's Asia Pacific chief marketing officer, told the Hindustan Times: "(The) Indian market for us is growing at a double-digit rate in the international spirits category. The market is incredibly important for our brand as every year around 19m people enter the legal alcohol-purchasing age here." 

He pointed to the soaring investment rates by the group, adding that "top talent" from Diageo, including its entire global reserve brand team, have visited to get a grip on the "luxury sensibilities in the country".

Earlier this year, rumours circulated that the drinks firm was looking to boost its interest in the country by buying a stake in United Spirits, but so far no deal has emerged. 

India has seen a slowing of economic growth lately, but Thompson suggested this was not a concern. 

"There are not many countries that have the Indian dynamics," he was reported as saying. "Indians are disappointed that their GDP is only growing at 6.7%. The countries I visit, they would bite people's arm off to have GDP growing at such numbers."

Meanwhile, Thompson said the group has launched about six brands in the past 12 month in India as it focusses on new trends, including increasing economic independence for women. 

On the high-end side of the market, he added: "Our luxury brands are growing very well here as we see the luxury market taking off really well."

According to Diageo, the total net alcohol sales pool in Asia-Pacific is worth about GBP78bn and is growing at about 6% compound annual growth rate. The group claims to have an approximately 30% market share in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Diageo will report its full-year figures on Thursday (23 August). Check just-drinks for full coverage.