Scotch Whisky – sustaining success in the UK and globally

27 Apr 2015

SWA members meet in Edinburgh

Companies from across the world of Scotch Whisky, one of the country's most iconic and successful industries, met today (27 April) in Edinburgh to discuss a range of issues, including the export environment and competitiveness.

Some 180 people gathered at the Scotch Whisky Association's (SWA) annual Members' Day at the city's Sheraton Hotel to hear addresses from David Frost, SWA chief executive and Pernod Ricard's Pierre Pringuet, the Association's chairman.

The theme of this year's event was 'Scotch Whisky - sustaining success in the UK and globally'  to reflect the ever-more competitive global marketplace in which the industry operates.

Scotch Whisky is vital to the UK economy - contributing around £5 billion each year in value and supporting more than 40,000 jobs. It makes up around 80% of Scottish food and drink exports and about a quarter of the UK's.

Scotch exports were worth £3.95bn last year, down 7% on 2013, but up 74% over the last decade. Long-term growth is therefore strong, but weaker economic conditions and political volatility in some markets had an impact.

Frost addressed the export situation today, saying: "Last year was challenging for us in global markets, but our performance is pretty impressive. The underlying picture is an encouraging one."

A panel session, facilitated by John McLellan, director Scottish Newspaper Society and honorary professor of journalism at Stirling University, discussed the export environment.  One of the conclusions was that Scotch Whisky is a beacon for other British industries in opening up overseas markets.

In the second panel on competiveness it was said that collaboration among Scottish industries, including food and drink, is key for future success.

Addressing delegates on the day, Frost also said: "Last month the Chancellor cut excise duty on Scotch Whisky by 2%. This was the first cut since 1996 and only the fifth ever since the 1823 Excise Act. It is still iniquitous that 77% of the price of a typical bottle of Scotch is taxation, but it is great to have a clear signal of support from our government."

On industry expansion, Frost explained: "We are continuing to grow. There are huge investment flows from established producers. Last year six new distilleries saw spirit flow for the first time and we've already seen another this year. We are aware of 30 or more projects for new distilleries. We haven't seen anything like this for many years."

The SWA's chairman Pierre Pringuet said: "As the first French person to hold the position of SWA chairman, I am delighted to say the 'auld alliance' between Scotland and France is as strong as ever."

Sir Simon Fraser KCMG, Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth, delivered the keynote speech as the start of the day on economic growth and prosperity.

To coincide with Members' Day, the SWA published its latest Annual Review and Legal Report: these can be downloaded below.


For more information please contact Rosemary Gallagher, SWA head of communications, 0131 222 9230 or 07432 605385 or email

Today's panel session the export environment comprised:
Martin Bell, Acting Director, Global Affairs, Scotch Whisky Association
Paul Lewis, Managing Director, International Operations, Scottish Enterprise
Ross Martin, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Development & Industry
Carl Paraskevas, Senior Economist, Lloyds Banking
Ian Shackleton, Managing Director, Nomura
Fraser Thornton, Managing Director, Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd

The panel session on competitiveness comprised:
Julie Hesketh-Laird, Deputy Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association
Bill Jamieson, Co- Editor, Scot-Buzz
Brad Mackay, Director of Engagement, University of Edinburgh
Peter Nelson, Operations Director, Glenmorangie
Frank Strang, Deputy Director Drink & Rural Communities Division, Scottish Government
James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink

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