Diageo pushed up annual sales by more than a fifth as drinkers returned to bars and restaurants and celebrated with ultra-luxurious “super premium plus” spirits brands such as Don Julio tequila and Bulleit bourbon (The Financial Times £).

The world’s largest spirits maker, which also makes Tanqueray gin, Captain Morgan’s rum and Ketel One vodka, saw net sales jump 21.4% to £15.5bn in the year to 30 June, beating analyst forecasts of a 16.1% rise (The Mail). 

The need for a stiff drink has proved stronger than the need to rein in spending on alcohol as prices rise: despite charging more for its drinks in the 12 months to the end of June Diageo sold 10% more litres of alcohol than it did in the year before (The Times £).

Brands such as Don Julio tequila, Johnnie Walker whisky and Casamigos – the tequila company co-founded by George Clooney – highlighted consumers’ growing taste for “super-premium plus brands”, the company said, even at a time of rising prices and a squeeze on incomes (The Guardian).

The Lex column in The Financial Times (£) says that inflation will the limits of Diageo’s premium pricing strategy. “Diageo is well-positioned to take advantage of what appear to be long-term trends. But the darkening economic outlook will take a toll. At the very least, expect the shift towards more expensive brands to slow.”

Nestlé increased prices for its products 6.5% in the first half of the year, as the world’s largest food company became the latest group to pass rising costs on to consumers (The Financial Times £).

Nestlé’s sales rose ahead of expectations driven by the price increases, analysts said, increasing 9.2% to 45.6bn Swiss francs (£39bn) in the half year, although net profit decreased by 11.7% to 5.2bn francs (The Guardian).

Amazon’s shares rose more than 10% in after-hours trading on Thursday after it beat revenue expectations and offered an upbeat forecast for the remainder of the year, as the company reined in ecommerce costs and benefited from strong demand for its cloud computing business (The Financial Times £).

Amazon has defied fears of a sustained slowdown in sales and shored up expectations surrounding its growth as the ecommerce giant cuts costs and raises fees amid surging inflation (The Times £).

Sales for the three months ending in June increased by 7% to $121bn compared with $113.1bn in the second quarter of 2021. The increase marks one of the slowest growth periods for Amazon in its history but was better than expected (The Guardian).

Months of rising inflation have taken a toll on business confidence, which has fallen below its long-term average for the first time since the lockdown last year, a survey has found (The Times £).

The co-founder and boss of THG, the beleaguered online retailer, has bought and mostly given away shares worth £800,000 in the group to friends (The Times £). None of those gifted shares were “persons closely associated” with Matthew Moulding, a legal definition that includes spouses and relatives that have lived in the same household for a year.

The rapid spread of Covid-19 infections in the past month has sent the number of workers taking sick leave soaring, according to official figures, making staff shortages even worse and forcing many employers to shut down parts of their business (The Guardian).

Nearly two-thirds of motorists either drove less during July, or cut back their spending in other areas, said the AA, as record petrol prices hit drivers in the pocket (The Guardian).

Hammerson announced its first profit in five years on Thursday, in the clearest signal yet that mall valuations have reached their floor (The Financial Times £).

The shopping centre owner reported its first interim profit in four years as footfall neared pre-pandemic levels (The Times £).

The US economy contracted again in the second quarter, falling into a technical recession as policymakers scramble to bring down surging inflation (The Times £).