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Diageo plc
Public limited company
Traded as
Industry Beverages
Founded 1997; 19 years ago (1997)
(London, United Kingdom)
Headquarters Park Royal, London, England, United Kingdom
Key people
Franz Humer (Chairman)
Ivan Menezes (CEO)
Products Alcoholic beverages: beer, wine and spirits
Revenue £13.980 billion (2014)[1]$71 Billion [2]
£2.707 billion (2014)[1]
£2.181 billion (2014)[1]
Number of employees
36,000 (2014)[3]
Slogan Celebrating Life, Every Day, Everywhere
Website www.diageo.com

Diageo plc (/dˈɑːʒ/; other possibilities are /dˈʌʒ/[4] or /diˈæi/)[5] is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London, England. It is the world's largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine.[6][7]

Diageo's brands include Smirnoff (the world's best-selling vodka),[8] Johnnie Walker (the world's best-selling blended Scotch whisky),[9] Baileys (the world's best-selling liqueur),[10] and Guinness (the world's best-selling stout).[11][12] It also owns 34% of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy.[13][14] It sells its products in over 180 countries and has offices in around 80 countries.[15][16]

Diageo has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It had a market capitalisation of approximately £48.9 billion as of 7 May 2013, making it the 8th-largest company on the London Stock Exchange.[17] It has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Diageo has a market-share of 25% in the United States[18]


Diageo is an invented name that was created by the branding consultancy Wolff Olins in 1997.[19] The name is composed of the Latin word "dies", meaning day, and the Greek root "geo", meaning world, and is meant to reference the company giving pleasure every day, everywhere.[19][20]


Diageo was formed in 1997 from the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan.[21] The creation was driven by the executives Anthony Greener and Philip Yea at Guinness[22] plus George Bull and John McGrath of Grand Metropolitan.[23] Shares in Diageo began trading on the London Stock Exchange on 17 December 1997.[24]

Diageo owned Pillsbury until 2000 when it was sold to General Mills.[25] In 2002, Diageo sold the Burger King fast food restaurant chain to a consortium led by US firm Texas Pacific for $1.5 billion.[26]

In February 2011 Diageo agreed to acquire the Turkish liquor company Mey Icki for US$2.1 billion.[27][28]

In May 2012, Diageo agreed to acquire Ypioca, the largest-selling brand of premium cachaça in Brazil, for £300 million.[29]

In June 2012 Diageo announced a £1 billion investment in Scotch whisky production over the following five years, with at least one new distillery to be constructed, several existing facilities to be expanded, and overall production capacity to be increased by 30 to 40 per cent.[30][31] This did not, however, involve retaining the original Johnnie Walker plant, in Kilmarnock, which had already closed its doors in March the same year.

In November 2012 Diageo agreed to acquire a 53.4% stake in the Indian spirits company United Spirits for £1.28 billion.[32][33]

In 2013 Diageo joined leading alcohol producers as part of a producers' commitments to reducing harmful drinking.[34]

In November 2014 Diageo agreed to sell Bushmills Irish whiskey in exchange for $408 million and full ownership of tequila brand Don Julio.[35]


Diageo's beverage brands include:[36]

Diageo also distributes Unicum (Hungarian liqueur), its lighter-bodied variant Zwack, and Grand Marnier which is distributed by Diageo in many markets, including exclusively in Canada, and a deal was reached in 2009 to expand significantly this partnership in Europe.


Diageo is the world's biggest whisky producer with 28 malt distilleries and two grain distilleries. The company operates the Scotch whisky distilleries of Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Blair Athol (situated at Pitlochry), Caol Ila, Cardhu, Dailuaine, Knockando, Glen Elgin, Clynelish, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Glen Ord, Lagavulin, Linkwood, Oban, Royal Lochnagar, Strathmill, Talisker, Teaninich, Mannochmore, Mortlach and Glenlossie, which are sold not only under their own name but used to make the various blended Scotch whiskies sold by the company, and owns the stock of many closed distilleries such as Port Ellen, Rosebank, Brora, Convalmore, Glen Albyn, North Brechin, Banff, and Linlithgow. The company has opened a new malt distillery adjacent to their maltings at Roseisle (1st new make spirit produced Spring 2009). This will be one of the largest malt distilleries in Scotland. The new building contains 14 traditional copper pot stills. An expansion programme is also underway at its Cameron Bridge Grain Distillery in Fife that will make it the largest grain distillery in Scotland. Diageo previously owned the Port Dundas Grain Distillery in Glasgow prior to its closure and demolition in 2010, and jointly operates the North British Grain Distillery in Gorgie, Edinburgh, with The Edrington Group.

Furthermore, Diageo owns a 34% stake in the Moet Hennessy drinks division of French luxury goods company LVMH.[38]

Head office[edit]

Diageo's head office is in Park Royal, London Borough of Brent,[40][41] on a former Guinness brewery property.[42] The brewery was closed in 2004; it had produced beer since 1936.[43]

In 1996, Diageo moved to a head office facility in Henrietta Place, Westminster, City of Westminster.[42][44] In 2009, Diageo announced that it was closing the Henrietta Place facility as part of a cost reduction programme. Diageo moved its employees to the Park Royal site. During that year, about 1,000 employees were located at the Henrietta Place and Park Royal offices. The lease in the Henrietta facility was scheduled to expire in 2010.[42]


In December 2003, Diageo provoked controversy over its decision to change its Cardhu brand Scotch whisky from a single malt to a vatted (blended) malt whilst retaining the original name and bottle style. Diageo took this action because it did not have sufficient reserves to meet demand in the Spanish market, where Cardhu had been successful. After a meeting of producers, Diageo agreed to make changes.[45] On 4 February 2004, Diageo restated last fiscal year's earnings under U.S. accounting rules, reducing net income by 53 million pounds, or $97 million.[46] In 2006, the Cardhu brand quietly changed back to being a single malt.[47]

In July 2009, Diageo announced that, after nearly 200 years of association with the town of Kilmarnock, Scotland they would be closing the Johnnie Walker blending and bottling plant[48] as part of restructuring to the business. This would make 700 workers unemployed and caused outrage from press, local people and politicians. A campaign against this decision was launched by the local SNP MSP Willie Coffey and Labour MP Des Browne. A petition was drawn up against the Diageo plans, which also involves the closure of the historic Port Dundas Grain Distillery in Glasgow.[49] Part of the Johnnie Walker operation will be moved to a Diageo site at Leven, Fife, with the creation of 400 jobs there.[50] As part of this expansion in Leven, Diageo culled a herd of roe deer living on the site to make way for new buildings.[51]

In February 2009, it was reported in The Guardian that the company had restructured itself so as to avoid paying tax in the UK.[52]

In December 2010, Diageo's U.S. subsidiary was charged with participating in a price-fixing conspiracy on retail alcohol sales in communities throughout the United States. The civil case, filed in federal district court in Minnesota, alleged that Diageo, through its position on the board of The Responsible Hospitality Institute, encouraged bars and restaurants to voluntarily enter into agreements, often called "community covenants," to reduce the offering of price discounts.

The National Puerto Rican Coalition plans to run a series of ads in New York City and Puerto Rico urging a boycott of Diageo-owned alcoholic drinks to protest the corporation’s production move of its Captain Morgan rum from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Virgin Islands,[53] which will provide it with $2.7 billion in tax benefits over 30 years.[54]

In 2011, Diageo agreed to pay more than $16 million to settle U.S. civil regulatory charges that it made improper payments to foreign officials. Regulators accused the British company of violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act through its subsidiaries to obtain lucrative sales and tax benefits for its Johnnie Walker and Windsor Scotch whiskeys and other brands. The SEC said that from 2003 to 2009, Diageo paid $2.7 million to foreign officials in India, Thailand, and South Korea through its subsidiaries. The settlement includes $11.3 million in disgorgement of profits, plus $2.1 million in interest and a $3 million penalty. "For years, Diageo's subsidiaries made hundreds of illicit payments to foreign government officials," SEC Associate Director of Enforcement Scott Friestad said in a statement. "As a result of Diageo's lax oversight and deficient controls, the subsidiaries routinely used third parties, inflated invoices, and other deceptive devices to disguise the true nature of the payments."[55]

On 9 May 2012 Scottish Craft Brewery BrewDog revealed that Diageo had threatened to withdraw funding from BII Scotland's annual awards if BrewDog was to be named winner of the Best Bar Operator award. Diageo was forced to issue an apology.[56][57][58]

In December 2013, Diageo brand "Captain Morgan Spiced Rum" began advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Show, provoking a backlash against the brand.

In 2015, Diageo offended survivors of rape and sexual abuse with an advertising campaign showing a young girl being blamed for having been drunk at the time and, moreover, for having an alcoholic mother. The director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said Diageo "blames victims of sexual violence for the crimes that have been committed against them. The belief that drunk girls are ‘asking for it’ is one that needs to be strongly challenged as it is one that we know perpetrators use to select and target their victims knowing this cultural attitude will mean they get away with it. [...] This is a harmful, regressive and hurtful message which targets the vulnerable. Survivors of sexual violence should never be used in this manner. This latest ad builds on the shaming of women theme that can be seen in much drink related campaigning. The out-of-control campaign which started by asking women if they were ‘embarrassed’ while they were being photographed without their consent in a potentially compromising position, has now progressed to blaming victims of rape for their own rape."[59]


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External links[edit]