The financial performance of the Group this year reflects the continued strong demand for our brands, coupled with a controlled growth in our cost base to deliver our fourth year of profit growth. These results were delivered through a year with significant volatility and change in the wider global and economic environment. The impact of COVID-19 on our performance began in January 2020 in a number of Asian markets before spreading to our Global Travel Retail business and most of our domestic markets through the last six weeks of our financial year. We estimate that the reduction in our revenue during this period was broadly offset by a reduction in brand investment and overheads, resulting in an immaterial impact on our profit for the year to March 2020.
GROUP FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE (reported on a constant currency basis)
Core revenue grew by 6% to £699.6m driven by the strong growth of The Macallan.
The growth in core revenue was faster than the 3% volume growth due to the benefits of both improved product mix and price increases on The Macallan and Brugal rum.
We invested £133.2m in brand-building marketing activities this year, which is flat versus last year. This investment level was lower than planned due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and our inability to spend brand investment effectively across quarter four. As a result, our ratio of brand investment to core revenue has declined by one percentage point to 19%.
Core contribution increased by 13% to £248.2m this year, a further acceleration of the trend we have seen over the last four years. The strong contribution growth was ahead of revenue growth as we implemented plans from the beginning of the fiscal year to manage the growth in our cost base and deliver improved efficiencies on our overheads and brand investment.
The Macallan grew contribution by 14%, and Brugal rum grew by an outstanding 33% driven by the premiumisation of the portfolio in its home market in the Dominican Republic. Malt whiskies have had a mixed year with an overall decline in contribution of 9%, with Highland Park being impacted by increased competition in its key markets of the UK and US. The Glenrothes performed well with growth of 10%. The Famous Grouse had a better year growing volume and revenue however contribution declined by 6% in a competitive market place where we were unable to pass on the effect of cost increases through higher consumer pricing.
At a regional level we experienced strong contribution growth in Asia Pacific and across Russia and Emerging Europe whilst the Americas limited the impact of the tariffs on single malt whisky by adjusting managing its cost base and brand investment. Global Travel Retail was impacted immediately by the COVID-19 outbreak, initially in Asia and then latterly through March across all markets. The Europe region declined due to the significant impact of COVID-19 on the on-trade channel in Spain.