Diageo, the world's largest spirits maker, reported slower quarterly trading, hurt by tough comparisons in Britain and retailers reducing inventory in Southeast Asia. 

The maker of Guinness, Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka said net sales in the three months to March 31, the third quarter of its financial year, fell 0.7%.

This compared to some analysts' expectations for a sales increase. 

Even after stripping out a specific hit from changes in timing of shipments in Latin America and the Caribbean, sales would have been well below expectations. 

Today's quarterly report is the last of its kind for Diageo, which will conduct only half-year reporting from its next financial year. 

Compared with the previous six months, sales trends worsened in Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, but improved in Africa and North America. 

Analysts were hoping for signs of improvement in the US, Diageo's largest profit driver, especially after positive industry data from research firm Nielsen. 

"Our performance in the quarter reflects continued tough conditions in the emerging markets and subdued consumer demand in some developed markets," Diageo's CEO Ivan Menezes said. 

The company blamed its weaker performance on UK sales that fell by a high single-digit percentage. 

Diageo cited a tough comparison with the same time last year, in which sales were boosted as customers stepped up purchases ahead of an expected increase in alcohol duties. 

It also said that this year's sales were weakened by regulatory changes in Indonesia, which would ban beer in somemarkets, and retailers keeping less inventory in Southeast Asia. 

Diageo announced separately that the president of its Africa business, Andy Fennell, will leave the company at the end of its financial year and be replaced by John O'Keeffe, managing director of Guinness Nigeria.