Diageo weighs in on Scottish independence

Scotland remaining part of the European Union is “extremely important” for the Scotch whisky industry, but the decision rests with the “people of Scotland”, Diageo’s chief executive has said.

Diageo Ivan MenezesCEO Ivan Menezes said that Scotland remaining part of the European Union is important because of the benefit from “free-trade agreements around the world”, but that the decision on independence was for “the people of Scotland to make”.

He told the Wall Street Journal that possible changes to tax regulation and uncertainty over a future Scottish currency from independence could be damaging for Scotch whisky distillers.

“What we will fight for is keeping our industry competitive and thriving, and we are very clear on what that requires,” Menezes said.

He told the Journal that Diageo is speaking to both sides of the debate on Scottish independence. “We’re being very proactive in ensuring the health of this industry is protected,” he said.

“Unlike other businesses, we cannot pick up and leave Scotland,” Menezes said. “We’re there to stay.”

Diageo, whose Scotch brands include Johnnie Walker, J&B, Buchanan’s, Talisker and Lagavulinand, generates about a quarter of its £11.3 billion in total annual sales from Scotch and is the world’s largest producer of Scotch whisky.

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