Cheers: Diageo boosts stake in alcohol-free spirits firm
Diageo, the world's biggest spirits firm, has moved further into non-alcoholic drinks after securing a majority stake in "game-changing" alcohol-free "spirit" Seedlip.
The company already held a small stake in the drinks startup, but has significantly increased its investment as it continues to bank on the growing popularity of non-alcoholic drinks. Seedlip, which claims to be the world's first distilled non-alcoholic spirit brand, was launched by Ben Branson in 2015.
Diageo-backed accelerator programme Distell Ventures announced a minority investment in Seedlip in June 2016, but the Gordon's gin owner has now increased its control in the fast-growing business.
Seedlip produces three varieties of distilled drinks, made with botanicals, as alternatives to traditional spirits. The brand has seen sales surge as alcohol-free alternatives gain popularity, and is available in major supermarkets such as Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, as well as cocktail bars and restaurants.
"We want to change the way the world drinks and today's news is another big step forward to achieving this," Mr Branson said.
Last month, Diageo revealed that annual profits jumped 9pc to £4bn (€4.3bn), but admitted that it had its eyes open to growth opportunities as some traditional drinks, such as rum, saw sales stagnate.
"Seedlip is a game-changing brand in one of the most exciting categories in our industry," said John Kennedy, Diageo's president for Europe.