Scotland’s largest whisky producer Diageo has said profits have plunged by 47% after it was hit by the closure of pubs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's largest spirits maker which produces Johnnie Walker has seen its annual operating profit almost halve as operating profits dropping 47% to £2.1bn.

The company was also hit by a £1.3bn write-down relating to businesses in India, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Windsor whisky brand in South Korea, “reflecting the impact of Covid-19 and challenging trading conditions”.

Total sales fell by 9% to £11.8bn for the year despite being boosted by growth in sales in North America.

HeraldScotland: Diageo has reported a 2.02 billion pound profit despite a 'challenging' year

However net sales of tequila in North America were up 36% reflecting the rising popularity of the Don Julio and Casamigos brands, while in Europe drinkers appeared to opt for rum, where sales rose 3 per cent, helped by the company's Captain Morgan brand.

But chief executive Ivan Menezes said he would still pay the same final dividend to shareholders as last year, of 42.47p a share, bringing the full year dividend to 69.88p, up 2% on a year ago.

He described it as a "year of two halves," saying: "After good, consistent performance in the first half of fiscal '20, the outbreak of Covid-19 presented significant challenges for our business, impacting the full year performance."

He added: “Through these challenging times we have acted quickly to protect our people and our business, and to support our customers, partners and communities.

“The actions we have taken to strengthen Diageo over the last six years provide a solid foundation to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

“We are now a more agile, efficient and effective business.”