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Diageo MHD and Kirin partnerships confirmed

From October 1, MHD will focus exclusively on marketing and distributing Diageo luxury and super-luxury malt and blended whisky brands, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Johnnie Walker Green Label, Old Parr and Talisker. And to further leverage MHD’s  luxury capabilities, Diageo will transfer to MHD a number of specialist luxury spirits including Ron Zacapa Rum and Bulleit Bourbon.

Diageo said distribution of almost all of its premium brands will be concentrated with Kirin, which already distributes a number of Diageo premium brands, including Guinness, Kilkenny  and Smirnoff Ice.  Thirteen more brands will be transferred to Kirin on October 1, including Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Red Label, Smirnoff Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, Baileys Irish Cream, and I W Harper.

Diageo said the realignment reaffirms the strength of its commitment to MHD and Kirin, and will streamline distribution of its products while playing directly to the core strengths of both partners.

MHD’s long-standing expertise in managing luxury and super luxury brands will drive growth in these categories, while Kirin’s sophisticated nationwide distribution network provides an optimal platform from which to expand Diageo’s premium beverage alcohol business in Japan.

The announcement follows the recent formation of Diageo Kirin Company Limited, a joint venture between Diageo and Kirin established to develop overall business strategy for Diageo premium brands in Japan, and to provide nationwide brand marketing support to both companies. This joint venture, 51% owned by Diageo and 49% by Kirin, began operations on June 1 this year.

1 July 2009 - Felicity Murray