Distillers’ City Debate 2017: The arguments

19th May, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

Earlier this week, a panel of esteemed speakers went head-to-head to debate whether innovation or acquisition is a more effective tool for spirits industry growth during the sixth Distillers’ City Debate. Here are some highlights from the key arguments of the evening.

Panellists from left to right: Simon Hales, Paul Walsh, Ian Buxton, Michael Ward, and Tom Sandham

Chaired by Ian Buxton, author of the 101 Whiskies and Gins series, the panel consisted of Michael Ward, global head of innovation at Diageo; Paul Walsh, chairman of Compass Group and former CEO of Diageo; Tom Sandham, writer and co-founder of Thinking Drinkers; and Simon Hales, MD, European equity research at Barclays Investment Bank.

The debate was hosted at a time of both prolific M&A activity in the spirits industry, and also rampant innovation. But which route results in greater growth in the spirits industry worldwide?

The motion of the debate, organised by The Worshipful Company of Distillers, was: ‘This house believes that innovation is a more effective tool for growth than acquisition in the spirits industry.’ Arguing in favour of the motion was Ward and Sandham, while Walsh and Hales put forward their cases against it.

At the start of the evening, the audience voted in favour of the motion, but minds were changed once the debaters had left the podium, and acquisition pipped innovation to the post.

Click through the following pages to see some of the debaters’ key arguments.

Leave a Reply