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Drinks firm looks on the bright side of trading.

Drinks company Diageo says there are signs of an upturn in worldwide trading conditions, after reporting annual underlying profits had risen by 6pc.

The Smirnoff vodka-to-Guinness company said it had made substantial progress in a year of "significant challenges" including slowing consumer demand.

Diageo unveiled pre-tax profits before one-off costs of pounds 2.16bn, in line with City expectations and up from pounds 2.03bn last year.

Other developments included the integration of drinks brands acquired from Seagram such as Captain Morgan rum and Crown Royal whiskey.

Chief executive Paul Walsh said: "Some of the pressures Diageo faced at the beginning of last year, including economic pressures in Latin America, had receded, but the future still remains difficult to predict."

London-based Diageo said there were signs trading conditions were improving in north America, the UK and Spain, but further evidence of a broad-based recovery was needed before a substantial upturn could be claimed.

Global priority brands - including Baileys, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Captain Morgan - saw 4pc organic volume growth in the year. Meanwhile, ready-to-drink (RTD) brands such as Smirnoff Ice grew volumes by 5pc despite the withdrawal of Captain Morgan Gold.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 5, 2003
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