Diageo launched Johnnie Walker Island Green into Travel Retail this year

Diageo launched Johnnie Walker Island Green into Travel Retail this year

Diageo's Johnnie Walker is to shrug off gloomy forecasts for Travel Retail and invest in the channel over the upcoming gifting period, the brand's head has said.

Speaking to just-drinks this week, Johnnie Walker global brand director Guy Escolme said the blended Scotch's share performance remains "very strong" in Travel Retail, and promised new consumer activations ahead. 

The brand will be looking to build on its 2015 performance. IWSR figures released today reveal that Johnnie Walker posted a 13% lift in year-on-year sales in 2015, to 2.6m nine-litre cases.

"It's a very exciting space," Escolme said. "Quite the reverse of this bleak picture, we see it as a significant opportunity, especially for a brand like Johnnie Walker."

Global Travel Retail sales are under pressure from a fall in demand from Russian and Chinese passengers as well as fluctuating currency exchange rates. Pernod Ricard CEO Gilles Bogaert warned this month that 2017 will be another tough year.

Escolme added that Diageo is "enormously committed to the Travel Retail channel" and will be activating heavily around festive gifting. 

"Whether it's Divali, Christmas, Thanksgiving or Chinese New Year, gifting in our category is significant and if you look at Travel Retail specifically it is a very important gifting channel. We also believe that we need to build and enhance the experience of the channel."

Some the activations will be around Johnnie Walker's Island Green expression, launched exclusively into Travel Retail in July.

Escolme was speaking after the first screening of Johnnie Walker's latest short film in its Storylines marketing campaign. The film, directed by Sundance Film Festival-winning director Talal Derki, highlights the villagers on the Greek island of Lesbos who last year were on the front line of rescue efforts for refugees fleeing Syria and other global flashpoints.

'Ode to Lesvos' is the third in the Storyline campaign, which has also featured short films from Colombia and New York.

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Diageo plc – Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Partnerships & Alliances and Investment Report

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