Diageo plc

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Diageo is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, headquartered in London, with offices in ~80 countries. The company sells its products in 180+ countries, and was the world's largest distiller until Apr.2017, when it was overtaken by China's Kweichow Moutai.


  • Smirnoff, vodka
  • Johnnie Walker
  • Baileys, liqueur
  • Guinness
  • 37% of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy.



Total float: 90.8%
Source: MarketScreener.svg, Mar.2020


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Diageo plc

  • Aug.2020:
    Davos Brands LLC: a majority stake in the USA wholesaler and distributor of alcoholic beverages was acquired. Co-owner Ryan Reynolds retained an ongoing ownership interest in Aviation Gin LLC.[1] Davos Brands portfolio included: Astral Tequila, Aviation American Gin, Balcones Distilling, Sombra Mezcal, TYKU Sake, and iichiko Shochu.[2] Davos Brands was formed in 2014 under the direction of Guillaume Cuvelier, founder and former CEO of Svedja Vodka.[3] DavosBrands.com
  • Jun.2017:
    Casamigos Tequila, a small batch, ultra-premium tequila brand, was acquired.[4] Casamigos (“house of friends”) was created in 2013 by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, initially just for themselves and their friends - who then clamoured for bottles.[5] GerberSpirits.com, Casamigos.com
  • 2002: Diageo Scotland: renamed again. (regno. SC000750)
  • 2001: Guinness United Distillers & Vintners Scotland: the company was renamed.
  • 1998: United Distillers & Vintners was formed by the merger of United Distillers with International Distillers & Vintners.
  • 1998: United Distillers & Vintners: International Distillers & Vintners was merged with United Distillers, forming the spirits division of Diageo plc.ref

  • Dec.1997: Diageo plc: Grand Metropolitan plc merged with Guinness plc.
ToDo: diageo.comArchive-org-sm.svg, Diageo History, diageo.com/BrandPortfolioArchive-org-sm.svg, Brands

Grand Metropolitan plc

  • Grand Met's International Distillers & Vintners subsidiary became an international business supplying branded wines and spirits including Smirnoff vodka, J&B whisky, Bailey's Irish Cream, Gilbey's gin, Piat wine and Croft sherry and port. Grand Met also owns the Dominic Group of off-licences, trading as Peter Dominic, Bottoms Up and Hunter & Oliver.
  • Grand Met Brewing Ltd brews and distributes ales and lagers, and owns and manages a portfolio of brands;
  • Grand Met Retailing Ltd, est. 1987, supplied beers, wines, spirits and food through managed public houses and restaurant operations.
  • Grand Met Estates Ltd, est. 1987, was responsible for the property management of Grand Met's public house estate.
  • Oct.2001:
    Pillsbury Company was sold to General Mills Inc, forming the 4th-largest food company in the world. The transaction included well-known brands such as Cheerios, Wheaties, Haagen Dazs, Yoplait yogurt, Hamburger Helper, Jolly Green Giant and Pillsbury bakery items, including Jus-Rol.refref

  • Dec.1997: Diageo plc: Grand Metropolitan plc merged with #Guinness plc. The imaginary name Diageo combined the Latin term for day, and the Greek word for world.
  • Sept.1996: Streamlining: smaller brands on the auction block: Shippams, meat and pastry brand Peter's Savoury Products, Memory Lane Cakes and Fleur de Lys in the UK; others in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.ref
  • Nov.1991:
    Express Dairies, including Eden Value, Thayers ice cream, and the Coldstream distribution operations, was sold to Northern Foods plc.[6]
  • Feb.1990: Wimpy Restaurants: Grand Met. agreed to sell part of its British Wimpy Restaurants Group and all of Wimpy`s overseas operations to a management team led by a former Wimpy managing director.ref
  • Dec.1990:
    Jus-Rol Ltd was purchased from Fitch Lovell plc, along with Bluecap Frozen Foods, a Stockport-based contract distributor mainly of Jus-Rol products.[7][8] OpenCorporates-sm.svg jusrol.co.uk
  • 1990s: The company had saddled itself with large restructuring costs and debt, just at the time the spirits market began to shrink, resulting in the further sale of non-core businesses.
  • Jan.1989:
    Pillsbury Company was acquired in a hostile takeover.ref Pillsbury was a leading USA food processing company which owned fast-food operation Burger King (acq'd 1967); Green Giant and Häagen-Dazs,ref amongst others.
  • 1989: William Hill, including Mecca Bookmakers, was sold to Brent WalkerWikipedia-W.svg.ref
  • 1988: Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation was sold to Japan's Saison Group, as Grand Met. expanded into the fast food sector through the purchase of Burger King.[9][1] In Mar.1998, British Brewery company Bass plc bought Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation from the Saison Group.
  • Dec.1987: William Hill acquired from Sears Holdings; Mecca Bookmakers was subsequently hived up into William Hill.ref
  • Jun.1987: Disposed of USA soft drinks bottling operations to PepsiCo.
  • May.1987: Eye+Tech Superstores acquired by Pearle from ??
  • Apr.1987: Vision Express Superstores acquired by Pearle from ??
  • Mar.1987: Heublein Inc, a wines and spirits business, was acquired by International Distillers & Vintners from RJR Nabisco Inc. The deal brought the European and Commonwealth rights to Smirnoff vodka.[10][11]
  • 1987: Compass Group: Management buyout of the contract services division of Compass Contract Services.ref,CH
  • 1987: More acquisitions: Almaden, Saccone & Speed.
  • 1986: Liggett Group Inc was sold to Bennett S. LeBowWikipedia-W.svg.ref
  • Sept.1985: Pearle Vision Inc was acquired from its founders.ref
  • 1984: Compass Contract Services: Grand Metropolitan Catering Services was relaunched with a new name.
  • May.1982: Grand Metropolitan plc: the company was renamed.

Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd

  • Sept.1981: Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation was purchased from struggling Pan American Airways, who were divesting non-core assets due to mounting debts.[2]ref Grand Met. merged its chain of Grand Metropolitan Hotels into Inter-Continental and its sibling chain Forum Hotels.
  • 1981: Warner Holidays Ltd, operating holiday centres in the UK and the Mediterranean, was acquired.
  • 1980: Liggett Group Inc, a USA tobacco and drinks business, was acquired for its wines and spirits business.
  • 1972: § Watney Mann Ltd was acquired, including subsidiary International Distillers & Vintners Ltd, which owned the Justerini & Brooks whisky, Bailey's Irish Cream, W&A Gilbey's gin,ref Piat wine, and Croft sherry and port brands.ref The business was hived up, and the Watney Mann brewery closed in 1979.ref
  • 1971: Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. acquired.
  • Aug.1970: Mecca Ltd, the holdco for Mecca Sportsman Ltd, was acquired. Grand Met. pursued a policy of disposal of provincial casinos, and expansion of London casinos.
  • Jun.1970: Mecca Sportsman Ltd, operating betting and gaming halls, was acquired. Grand Met. acquired the outstanding 49% of shares it didn't already own.
  • 1970: Berni Inns Ltd, a chain of licensed restaurants/pubs, was acquired.
  • 1969:
    Express Dairies was acquired.ref
  • 196?: Grand Metropolitan Catering Services was formed by merging Midland Catering and Bateman Catering.ref
  • 1968: Midland Catering Ltd acquired.
  • 1967: Bateman Catering Organisation Ltd acquired.
  • 1962: Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd: the business changed its name.
  • 1961: MRMA Ltd was listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • 1957: MRMA Ltd merged with Grand Hotels (Mayfair) Ltd, a business founded by Maxwell JosephWikipedia-W.svg
  • Sept.1934: MRMA Ltd, short for "Mount Royal Metropolitan Association", began life as a hotel business.ref
Sources: Grand Met Competition Commission, 1990. Original archived on Jul.31.2003.Grand Metropolitan. ScotchWhisky.com. Accessed Mar.20.2019. ♦ Grand Metropolitan Ltd. Annual Returns. Companies House. Accessed Mar.2019.

ToDo: Put on its own page. "grand metropolitan plc", Annual Reports, GG, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, logo

Watney Mann Ltd

  • 1972: § Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd acquired the company, lock, stock and barrel, including subsidiary International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. The business was hived up and, in 1979, the Watney Mann brewery was closed.ref, Watney Combe & ReidWikipedia-W.svg
  • 1972: § Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd took over the company, and hived it up. The brewery was closed in 1979.[3]
  • 1972: § International Distillers & Vintners Ltd was taken over.
  • 1958: Watney Mann was formed by the merger of Watney, Combe, Reid & Company Ltd with Mann, Crossman & Paulin Ltd.[4]
  • 1898: Watney Combe & Reid: James Watney & Co. merged with Combe Delafield & Company and Reid & Company, becoming the largest brewery in London.[5]
  • ... ...
  • 1884: The business became a private limited company, on the death of James Watson.
  • 1837: Stag Brewery: James Watney became a partner, followed by his sons James and Norman in 1856.
  • ... ...
ToDo: link, link, GG:Watney Mann
International Distillers & Vintners Ltd

Owned the Justerini & Brooks whisky, Bailey's Irish Cream, W&A Gilbey's gin, Piat wine, and Croft sherry and port brands.ref,ref

  • Dec.1997: § Diageo plc was formed by the merger of § Grand Metropolitan plc and § Guinness plc. The spirits divisions of the 2 businesses, United Distillers and International Distillers & Vintners, were merged to create United Distillers & Vintners, becoming Diageo's spirits division.
  • 1972: § Watney Mann, a brewer, took over the business, which became their consolidated wine and spirits division.[6] Watney Mann was itself absorbed by Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd later the same year.
  • 1962: International Distillers & Vintners: W&A Gilbey merged with United Wine Traders.
  • 1958: W&A Gilbey had become the largest wine and spirits firm in the UK.[12]
  • 1912: Gilbey's Invalid Port: an advertising campaign made their port a best-seller and a household name.
  • 1895: Gilbey's Gin: the company began distilling gin.
  • 1893: The business was converted, for family reasons, into a private limited liability company, of which Walter Gilbey, who in the same year was created a baronet, was chairman.
  • 1875: Expansion: a large claret-producing estate in Medoc, on the banks of the Gironde, was acquired; and also two large whisky-distilleries in Scotland.
  • 1864: The business was doing so well, that Henry Gilbey abandoned his own undertaking to join his brothers.
  • 1857: W&A Gilbey Ltd: backed by capital obtained through Henry Gilbey, Walter and Albert opened a small retail business in a basement in Oxford Street, London.
  • 1856: Walter and Albert Gilbey returned to London after the Crimean war, and borrowed money from their elder brother Henry, a wholesale wine-merchant, to import South African wines.
Sources: "Trademarked: A History of Well-Known Brands, from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar.", David Newton, Sutton Publishing, Feb.2008, ISBN: 978-0752496122

Guinness plc

  • Dec.1997: Diageo plc: Guinness plc merged with Grand Metropolitan plc.
  • 1988: United Yeast Company Ltd, a food services company established in Dec.1899, was sold to Fitch Lovell Ltd. todo
  • 1986: Distillers Company: reverse takeover. As Distillers was worth more than Guinness plc, the Guinness family shareholding in the merged company went below 10%, and today no member of the family sits on the board. ref See Guinness share-trading fraudWikipedia-W.svg.
  • Jun.1985: Arthur Bell & Sons: Guinness plc mounted a hostile takeover. It was a cruel battle, skilfully masterminded by Guinness CEO Ernest Saunders.ref
  • Aug.1954: Guinness Book of Records was first printed - given away.ref
  • 1904: Skyscraper: the 7-storey Guinness Storehouse, built around a giant pint, was the first skyscraper building in the British Isles.ref
  • 1886: Edward Cecil GuinnessWikipedia-W.svg sold 65% of the business by a public offering on the London Stock Exchange.
  • 1799: Arthur Guinness started producing the dark beer with creamy foam; shortly afterwards he stopped brewing ales.
  • 1770s: Arthur Guinness's interest was piqued by "porter", exported to Dublin from London, and decided to give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • May.1769: Arthur Guinness exported his beer for the first time to England.
  • Dec.1759: Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin.ref The lease was nullified due to expansion beyond the original site.ref
  • 175?: Arthur Guinness started brewing real ale in Leixlip, County Kildare.
Additional Sources: ref

ToDo: Diageo plc / Guinness plc / Arthur Guinness & Sons plc / Arthur Guinness Son & Company LtdOpenCorporates-sm.svg

United Distillers

  • 1987: United Distillers was formed by combining the businesses of Distillers Company Ltd and Arthur Bell & Sons, both owned by Guinness. The company owned 6 single malt Scotch brands; it also owned the Bernheim distillery (now owned by Heaven Hill) and the Stitzel-Weller distillery, both in Kentucky, USA.
  • Express Foods Group (International) held the group's UK foods interests through Express Dairy Company (Eire).
ToDo: Move this up the page. link, link, link, link, link

Distillers Company Ltd

  • 1987: United Distillers: Guinness combined Distillers Company Ltd and Arthur Bell & Sons.
  • 1986: Guinness acquired the company,[13] including its famous brands such as Johnnie Walker Scotch Whiskey.ref The Saga on the Stinking Deal
  • ?date?: Distillers Company plc:
  • 1925: John Dewar & Sons Ltd.
  • 1925: James Buchanan & Company.ref
  • 1925: John Walker & Son was acquired, barely two years after it went public.[14]
  • 1877: Six Scotch whisky distilleries were combined: Macfarlane & Co., John Bald & Co., John Haig & Co, MacNab Bros & Co, Robert Mowbray, and Stewart & Company (born out of the Scotch Distillers’ Association, a trade association formed in 1865).
ToDo: link; link, "International Directory of Company Histories.", ed. Jay P Pederson, Vol.1, St James Press: Chicago, Illinois, 1988, ISBN: 978-1558623934


  • ^ Diageo to acquire Aviation Gin and Davos Brands. Trustnet, Aug.17.2020.
  • ^ Our Brands. Davos Brands Inc, Aug.18.2020.
  • ^ TY KU Announces the Creation of Davos Brands, an Importer and Marketer of Luxury Wines and Spirits. Press Release, BevNet, Jul.28.2014.
  • ^ George Clooney sells his tequila company for up to $1bn. Julia Kollewe, The Guardian, Jun.22.2017.
  • ^ Calling The Shots: How Rande Gerber Turned Casamigos Into The Hottest Tequila In Tinseltown. Laura Schreffler, Haute Living, Jul.08.2020.
  • ^ Grand Met Sells Dairy Interests. The New York Times Archive, Nov.21.1991.
  • ^ Pillsbury UK Ltd. Directors' Report and Financial Statements, Apr.1989., Companies House, Apr.27.1991.
  • ^ Jus Rol in Berwick. Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives. Accessed Apr.22.2020.
  • ^ Asia's Interest in Buying Into Businesses in the U.S. Suddenly Cools. Andrew Pollack, The New York Times, Mar.03.1998.
  • ^ California Vintners Feel the Crush of Anti-Alcohol Forces, Increased Foreign Ownership. Bruce Keppel, Los Angeles Times, Sept.08.1987.
  • ^ Grand Met to buy Nabisco's Heublein. Jonathan P Hicks, The New York Times, Jan.17.1987.
  • ^ Obituary: Mr Ronald Gilbey. The Times Archive, Aug.03.1977.
  • ^ Guinness directors showed 'contempt for truth'. BBC News, Nov.28.1997.
  • ^ Johnnie Walker: History. The Whisky Exchange. Accessed Nov.14.2020.