* Full-year sales rise 16%, beating 13.7% forecast
* Company sees sales momentum continuing in 2022
* Diageo raises dividend by 5% to 44.59 pence
July 29 (Reuters) - Spirits group Diageo reported on
Thursday a better-than-expected rise in full-year organic net
sales growth, as North American bars and restaurants reopened
helping boost demand for its tequila brands and Johnnie Walker
By region, North America grew the strongest boosted by
consumers trading up to more premium spirits such as tequila,
liqueurs and higher-end bottles of Johnnie Walker scotch.
Organic net sales rose 16% for the year ending June 30,
beating the 13.7% rise analysts had expected, according to
Diageo, whose shares slipped 0.8% in early trade, said it
was raising its annual dividend by 5% to 44.59 pence per share.
The company said rising North American demand came despite
its move to raise prices on its Casamigos tequila brand and
Baileys liqueur, which was driven by the trend for home baking
during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The company said that, with 85% of restaurants and bars in
North America now open, it saw higher levels of restocking and
replenishment, boosting organic net sales by 20% in the region.
In the European region, Turkey and Northern Europe were the
strongest performers helped by strong demand for scotch whiskies
Sales in Africa and Asia also rose by double digit
percentages, mainly due to easier comparisons to last year.
The London-listed company said it expected organic net sales
momentum to continue into fiscal 2022, but with volatility in
the short term.
Lavanya Chandrashekhar, who was promoted to chief financial
officer in July, told reporters volatility was coming from
lockdowns in markets such as India, South Africa and Indonesia,
where there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent months.
She said a ban on alcohol sales during lockdowns in South
Africa had an impact, while retail sales to travellers had
fallen as air and other global travel was dented.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila and Edmund Blair)