In the lead-up to Christmas and New Year, Diageo plans to encourage more consumers to choose premium spirits.

While beer still dominates the total alcohol category in terms of share, spirits are currently contributing the most growth and could help retailers tap into an extra £198m in the alcohol market.

The Christmas period is particularly important for retail sales, with 39% of premium spirit sales occurring in the 12 weeks before Christmas.

The supplier said the top 10 spirit brands accounted for 46% of sales in the run-up to Christmas, so getting a core range of spirits sorted would be key in the coming weeks, while sales of gifting packs grew by 31% last year.

James Cragg, Diageo GB head of category development, said: “Having an impactful presence of big innovation and gifting brands is crucial to driving sales.”

The brand is introducing a number of new lines. On November 1, a limited-edition Baileys Chocolat Luxe gold bottle launched, supported by PoS, out-of-home and online ads.

Smirnoff packaging will also be redesigned across all products, including Smirnoff No 21, Ice, Gold and premix cans, to increase on-shelf standout.