USL plans to launch beer brand Guinness in India

United Spirits (USL) is testing Guinness beer, in selected states in India, planning to start the journey in the country’s beer market that is dominated by Heineken and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Launched in 1759, Guinness is one of world’s top beer brands and USL said the launch is part of the company’s wider strategy to reshape its premium portfolio and have more broad-based growth.

Guinness is one of our most premium and profitable brands in Diageo and we think this is the right time to start seeding it and take it from there,” USL managing director Hina Nagarajan said, in her first media interaction after being at the helm since July. “We want to be the top-performing consumer goods company in India, delivering sustained double-digit, profitable top-line growth.”

Diageo’s prestige-and-above (P&A) business now accounts for nearly three-fourths of its overall sales, up from less than half five years ago, indicating a strong focus on premium segments. During the quarter ended September, the company’s P&A growth at 20% was the highest in five years.

“It was earlier a combination of moderate growth and margin expansion. Now we are making a very big significant shift to break out double-digit profitable growth. We are going to look at accelerating our luxury and premium portfolio, playing stronger in upper prestige, and also reshaping the value in both lower prestige and mid-prestige segments,” Nagarajan added.

USL has been reviewing select mass-priced products in its portfolio as part of a strategy to drive higher profit by focusing on premium brands.

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