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Diageo

The world leader in alcoholic beverages

Talk about swimming in the stuff. The world's undisputed number one maker of spirits by volume, London-based Diageo manufactures some 6.5bn litres each year from 100 sites spread across 30 countries.

This is a company that has scale where it matters. It owns two of the world’s top five spirits brands - Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff - in its huge portfolio, which ranges from the internationally recognised (e.g Baileys, Captain Morgan and Tanqueray) to local favourites (such as Turkey’s Yeni Raki, or China’s Shui Jing Fang).

Its products and prices range from the bog standard to the ultra, ultra-high premium. Then there are its brewing interests.

Diageo says that its brands hold either a number one or number two position on every market in which it operates. It owns one of the world’s most famous beer brands, Guinness. Although the corporation (and the still clunky name) only came into being in 1997, its roots lie deep in British history.

The Haig family were first recorded making whisky in Scotland in 1627; Arthur Guinness began brewing in Dublin in 1749; Charles Tanqueray began distilling gin in London in 1830. And looking to the future, Diageo reckons approximately 730m new consumers will be able to afford its international-style spirits within the next ten years. That’s a huge future market.

Before launching into critiques about a business peddling booze and misfortune, it’s worth looking at Diageo’s wider corporate performance. Among the company’s key performance indicators are measures about alcohol in society (the number of “responsible drinking programmes”), health and safety, water efficiency and carbon efficiency, and employee engagement. Women represent 40 per cent of its board and executive committee. Thomson Reuters rank Diageo the fifth most diverse and inclusive workplace in the world. Hey, and it runs a bartender competition called World Class, so what's not to like?

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