Diageo plans to invest EUR24m over the next three years to make its St James's Gate brewery in Ireland a global R&D centre for the group's beer operations.

Diageo predicted yesterday (8 December) that the investment would increase annual revenue by EUR250m (US$321.5m)  over three years, with a significant percentage of this coming from export sales of beer.

Ireland's government said yesterday that it would support Diageo's investment via the Enterprise Ireland initiative. A Diageo Ireland spokesperson told just-drinks that Enterprise Ireland would provide access to its network of experts and facilities.

"This investment programme at St James's Gate in Dublin is critical for both the Diageo Group and for Diageo Ireland," said Dr Frank Lynch, technology & development director at the Diageo Global Beer Technical Centre in Ireland.

Lynch listed wide-ranging R&D priorities, including new brewing materials and technologies, new product development for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and packaging innovation.

St James's Gate is Diageo's iconic Guinness brewery. Earlier this year, it survived a strategic review by Diageo Ireland, while the breweries at Kilkenny and Dundalk are set to be closed.

Guinness sales rose in double digits in Diageo's international division for the year to the end of June, and the drinks giant has said it plans to expand the stout brand abroad.