Business ambassadors are business and academic leaders who act as advocates of the UK, to promote its economy, business environment and reputation.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “The retail and food and drink sectors are major contributors to the UK economy. Retailers employ almost 3M people, and food & drink is our single largest manufacturing sector – worth approximately £25bn a year.
“Government is committed to working closely with firms in these sectors to stimulate growth and encourage new investment opportunities.”
The appointment means that food and drink is now represented for the first time alongside financial services, engineering, energy, life sciences, education and creative services.
A statement from Diageo pointed out: “This announcement builds on existing work that Paul has been leading with Lord Green, minister of state for Trade and Investment, which aims to improve support for SMEs in their efforts to grow overseas. Paul’s new role as a business ambassador also complements his existing role on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.”
Speaking at the British Business Embassy Retail, Food and Drink summit in London today (August 8), Caroline Spelman, environment secretary said: “The appointment of the new Food Business Ambassador underlines the government’s commitment to this sector as a source of employment, growth and exports to help drive the UK’s economic recovery.”
Melanie Leech, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, also welcomed the appointment: “I am pleased to hear of the appointment of Paul Walsh as business ambassador for the food and drink industries.” His appointment would help SMEs to “to maximise their potential” in global markets.
Leech added that the Olympics were a major opportunity to promote British food. “Food and drink exports are a major UK economic success story and like this year’s Olympics on home soil, an achievement of which we can be truly proud.
“Today’s event is a great opportunity to showcase that success and to promote our export potential to a global audience.”
The summit is one of 18 being organised by UK Trade & Investment during the Olympic and Paralympic Games to promote international business opportunities.
Speakers and participants include: Marks and Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland, Walsh, and Coca Cola Enterprises global chief executive John Brock.