Whisky body welcomes stability of Scottish referendum result

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

A total of 55% of Scottish voters opted to remain in the UK, versus 45% voting for independence
A total of 55% of Scottish voters opted to remain in the UK, versus 45% voting for independence

Related tags Scotch whisky industry Scotland

The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed the “stability” brought by the vote for Scotland to stay in the UK.

“We welcome the stability that this choice brings and now urge politicians of all parties to work to bring our country together,”​ said SWA chief executive David Frost. “The people of Scotland have made a historic choice against the background of the most profound national debate. 

“The referendum debate has shown the need for government and business to collaborate to address long-term economic challenges. We will be looking closely at plans for further devolution within this context.  There must now be a renewed focus on improving the business environment so that Scotland's economy can grow to everyone's benefit. 

“The Scotch whisky industry is determined to play a leading role in shaping discussions that are fundamental to the future success of our industry and our nation.”

Focused on priorities

Spirits giant Diageo, whose Scotch whisky brands include Johnnie Walker, J&B and Buchanan’s said it would stay focused on its priorities as it worked out the implications of devolution.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “The future for this sector will remain bright provided there is no further regulation or taxation on the industry. This is important because in the world market, Scotch whisky competes fiercely with other categories, such as American whiskey, Irish whiskey and other whiskies.

“We will continue to work in partnership with both the UK and the Scottish governments to ensure the most favourable business environment possible, both for Diageo and for the future growth and success of Scotch whisky as an industry.”

John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the result had been greeted by a collective sigh of relief across the business community”.

‘Best for creating jobs’

“Business has always believed that the union is best for creating jobs, raising growth and improving living standards, and welcomes that the people of Scotland want to play an integral role in this internationally successful partnership,”​ said Cridland.

However, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, ceo of Business for Scotland, which supported the campaign for independence, said: “We do not believe that Westminster will grant Scotland any of the real powers necessary to create jobs and make the positive changes that will enable the Scottish economy to truly thrive.

“Backbench Westminster MPs and at least one minister have now made it absolutely clear that not only don't they think we should get more powers ... We will get nothing without a fight – but we are up for that fight.”

James Withers, chief executive of trade body Scotland Food and Drink, said it would be “business as usual for us, in terms of growing Scotland’s reputation for food and drink and developing our markets”.

“We have a clear growth strategy for the industry in Scotland, with a target of £16.5 billion in turnover by 2017,”​ said Withers.

“There will be a debate now on future powers for the Scottish Parliament and we’ll be engaged in that.  Devolution has given us a platform for partnership working in Scotland and it has been key to the growth momentum we now have, so shaping the next phase of that process will be important.”

‘Business as usual’

Andy Clarke, president and ceo of Asda, said: “The Scottish market is important to us. We serve 1.8M customers every week and our single price file means that the price they pay in Perth is the same as they would pay in Portsmouth, irrespective of higher operating costs. For Asda now, it’s business as usual and we will get on with doing what we do best: being shopkeepers.”

A Sainsbury spokeswoman said: “The Scottish referendum has been a matter for the people of Scotland and we have remained impartial throughout. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers in all parts of the UK.”

A spokeswoman for Morrisons added: “As politicians across the UK look at how they can extend devolution, we hope they will continue to consider the issues that matter most to our customers and colleagues.”

NFU Scotland had remained impartial throughout the referendum debate and its president Nigel Miller said: “The decision to remain within the union has been made and that must now provide the platform for Scotland to move on. From our perspective, it is imperative that in moving forward, Scotland fulfils the huge potential within our farming and food and drink sectors.”


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