Rapid growth in emerging markets was the key driver as Diageo posted a 5% rise in operating profits for the past year to £2.88bn.

Volumes in Europe were down 2% for the year to 30 June, the Guinness brewer reported today. But strong performances in Asia and South America, in particular for spirit brands Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, helped the drinks giant boost sales by 5% on an organic basis to £9.94bn.

“The very challenging trading environments of Spain and Greece are well understood and led to the overall decline in net sales for Europe this year,” said European president Andrew Morgan. He said the company performance in the UK had been “resilient, with single-digit growth”, while Captain Morgan rum had debuted in a number of new markets.

The performance comes after Diageo this year implemented a wide-ranging restructure designed to up its focus on emerging markets.

Its global marketing spend grew by 8% over the year to represent 15.5% of sales, with the increased outlay mainly focused on emerging markets and the US spirits market.

“We have strengthened the business, investing more behind our brands and in our routes to market and we have deepened our leading brand and market positions in the fastest growing markets of the world,” said chief executive Paul Walsh.

“While Diageo is not immune from a fragile global economy, this is a strong platform.”

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