Emerging markets toasted by distiller

Diageo, the world's largest distiller, is toasting emerging markets, which helped offset lower sales in Europe.

The maker of Johnny Walker whiskey, Smirnoff and Guiness saw growth shift away from European markets to Brazil, Africa, China and other emerging markets.

Diageo reported a 9% rise in operating profits in the six months to December, compared with the same period in 2011.

Underlying sales in North America, which account for around a third of group sales, grew by 5%, supported by price increases and double-digit growth of premium brands.

European sales, which makes up nearly a third of Diageo's total, fell by 2%, offset by growth of 6% in Asia.

Chief executive Paul Walsh said the shift is a reflection on the global economy. The group aims to make around half of its turnover in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where it is targetting the middle classes, by 2015.

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