Diageo is to form a joint venture with Kirin Holdings in Japan.

Diageo said today (6 April) that the venture, to be called Diageo Kirin Company, is expected to begin operations by June this year. Diageo will take a 51% stake in the venture. Financial details have not been disclosed.

The move is intended to boost Diageo's presence in Japan. Kirin, while still one of Japan's largest brewers, has more recently sought to expand overseas in order to reduce reliance on its domestic beer market, which has been in decline for several years.

"Combining the capabilities and expertise of both companies, the new firm will develop the overall business strategy for Diageo premium brands to be sold by Kirin in Japan," said Diageo.

"It will also provide nationwide brand marketing support to both companies, and modern on-trade sales support in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya metropolitan areas."

Kirin said that it aims to gain market share in the Japanese alcohol market, "addressing the diversification of personal preferences within Japan's aging population".

The Diageo premium brands to be sold by Kirin and distributed through Kirin's nationwide distributor network will include Guinness, Kilkenny and Smirnoff Ice, plus brands already handled by Kirin, namely Captain Morgan rum, Crown Royal, Gilbey's Gin, Gilbey's Vodka, Godiva, Myers's rum, Seagram's Seven Crown and Seagram VO.