Diageo has followed its formation of a joint venture in Japan with a realignment of its distribution in the country.

The company, which secured an alliance with Kirin Holdings in the country in April, said today (13 July) that it is looking to "leverage the strengths " of its two primary Japanese distribution partners. As well as the JV with Kirin, Diageo also has a 50-50 partnership with Moet Hennessy in the country - MHD Diageo Moet Hennessy.

From 1 October, MHD will focus exclusively on marketing and distributing Diageo's luxury and super-luxury malt and blended whisky brands, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Johnnie Walker Green Label, Old Parr and Talisker. Diageo also intend to transfer "a number of" specialist luxury spirits including Ron Zacapa Rum and Bulleit Bourbon to MHD.

Distribution of "almost all" of Diageo's premium brands will be concentrated with Kirin, which already distributes Guinness, Kilkenny and Smirnoff Ice for the company. Also from 1 October, 13 more Diageo brands, including Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Red Label, Smirnoff Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, Baileys Irish Cream, and I W Harper, will be transferred to Kirin.

"MHD's long-standing expertise in managing luxury and super luxury brands will drive growth in these categories, while Kirin's sophisticated nationwide distribution network provides an optimal platform from which to expand Diageo's premium beverage alcohol business in Japan," Diageo said.

The formation of Diageo Kirin Company was established to develop overall business strategy for Diageo's premium brands in Japan, and to provide nationwide brand marketing support to both companies. The JV, 51%-owned by Diageo and 49% by Kirin, began operations on 1 June.

Three days after the announcement of the creation of the JV, Pernod Ricard announced that Kirin would cease distributing its brands in Japan from 30 September.