Global drinks brand Diageo is focusing on protecting its Scotch whisky business and global trade in the wake of the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union, its chief executive told CNBC on Thursday.
"Out of Brexit, our focus is really on ensuring that we keep Scotch whisky healthy. The trade agreements in Europe and around the world. You know, Johnnie Walker (Diageo's leading brand of whisky) was in over 100 markets, long before Coca Cola left the shores of America," Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, told CNBC.
"So our business is built on global trade and that to me is the most important aspect that we keep so the Scotch whisky industry and our business remains competitive and healthy."
"Our message to the Scottish and U.K. governments is clear: Create the conditions to keep what truly is one of the jewel of businesses in the U.K. and Scotland healthy and thriving."
Menezes' comments come after the drinks maker reported full-year 2016 preliminary results on Thursday in which it said net profit was £2.24 billion ($2.95 billion) on full-year sales totaling £10.49 billion.
Diageo, whose brands include Guinness, Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky, said that its organic results had improved with volume growth of 1.3 percent, net sales growth of 2.8 percent and operating profit growth of 3.5 percent. Shares of the company opened 0.1 percent lower Thursday morning.
The company's board recommended a final dividend increase of 5 percent, bringing the full-year dividend to 59.2 pence per share.