Diageo's Kenya Unit Eyes Congo to Expand East African Market

  • EABL Wants to Triple Volumes In Rwanda, Strengthen Burundi
  • Targets Setting Operational Presence in Eastern DRC in Future

Diageo Plc’s East African unit plans to begin operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a strategy to grow its market in the region.

It will also boost volumes in Rwanda and strengthen its business in Burundi, East African Breweries Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Charles Ireland said in an interview on Friday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

“We are going to invest a lot in growing in Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” Ireland said. The company on Thursday posted a 67 percent increase in first-half profit to 7.73 billion shillings ($76 million) as revenue climbed 8.1 percent.

EABL, as the company is known, plans to more than triple volumes in Rwanda over the next three years, Ireland said. The company has witnessed growth of 30 percent in Rwanda “from a very small base”. “We are going to more than double the number of employees and triple advertising spending in Rwanda,” Ireland said.

The DRC has good market prospects and the company is working on a strategy to tap into that market. "The demographics for DRC are good, there is lots of people entering the middle-income bracket, rapid urbanization," Ireland said.

Diageo, the London-based maker of Guinness stout and Johnnie Walker whisky, owns 50.03 percent of EABL, East Africa’s biggest brewer by sales and Kenya’s second-largest company by market value.

“We are going to be tactical in our approach to DRC. Some time in the future we will move to a more operational structure.”

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