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DIAGEO, the world's biggest distiller and maker of Guinness, said the overall Irish beer market continued to decline in the six months ended December with sales down 6pc.

Guinness net sales here also declined 6pc mainly due to the warm summer, it added yesterday. However, Diageo said that the company still commands just over 32pc of the market equating to one in every three pints consumed in a pub.

Overall, the company reported first-half profit growth that missed expectations amid a slowdown in emerging markets, figures released today show.

Earnings, excluding some items, totalled £2.06bn (€2.6bn) while Diageo expects to see some improvement in sales growth in the second half.

Globally, Guinness net sales declined by 1pc, driven by weakness in Nigeria and Ireland.