William Grant donates to keep Scots in UK7th July, 2014 by Neal Baker
Scotch producer William Grant and Sons has donated what has been described as a “substantial sum” of money to the main campaign against Scottish independence.
It is understood to have given in the region of £100,000 to Better Together, saying that the Scotch whisky industry currently enjoyed “substantial support” from the UK government and its worldwide embassy network.
However, it was this embassy network was recently criticised by the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) for charging Scottish trade organisations to promote whisky.
The Scottish government has also argued that independence would benefit the whisky industry, pointing to moves towards an EU exit by the United Kingdom and its potential threat to the spirits trade.
William Grant, which produces brands including Glenfiddich malt whisky, had a turnover of more than £1 billion last year, and is one of the few Scotch whisky producers to remain in family ownership.
The BBC reports that the company is said to have also donated smaller sums of money to other groups who are campaigning for a “No” vote ahead of the independence referendum, which will be held on 18 September.
Industry trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has not formally backed either side in the independence debate, with its chief executive David Frost saying in April that he was seeking reassurances about what he described as the potential “risks” of independence for the industry.
However, Mr Frost also said the industry would succeed regardless of the result, mirroring Diageo who previously said the company was “there [in Scotland] to stay” whatever the outcome of the referendum.
Scotch whisky producers have been encouraged by other trade bodies to support Scotland as part of the United Kingdom, with John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry pointing in May last year to the importance of integrated currency and common UK laws and regulations.
In a statement, William Grant and Sons said: “We can confirm that the company has made these donations.
“We support the stance of the SWA over independence and would refer you to their recent statement that the Scotch whisky industry enjoys substantial support from the UK government and its worldwide embassy network and from lack of trade barriers within the EU.”
A spokesman for Better Together said: “We are delighted to have received this support. More and more companies, individuals and families are saying no thanks to separation.”
Scotch whisky was responsible for more than £4bn of exports last year, which the SWA said accounted for about 85% of Scottish food and drink exports and nearly a quarter of the British total.