Diageo exec warns duty rise could lower Scotch sales

7th November, 2017 by Owen Bellwood

A rise in spirits duty in the November budget could lead to a further decrease in Scotch whisky sales, according to Charles Ireland, Diageo’s general manager for Great Britain, Ireland and France.

Charles Ireland has said further duty increases could negatively impact sales of Scotch

In the run up to the forthcoming budget, Ireland said: “Our modelling shows there would be a negative impact on the strength of the market at home.”

He continued: “The spirits market suffered a downturn when the last increase happened earlier this year and there would be another downturn if the tax increased in the next budget.”

Ireland is the latest to join calls to ‘Drop the Dram Duty’ and said he thought any duty increases would have both a domestic and international impact on the industry.

After a tax rise in March, Scotch whisky sales dropped from 37.7 million bottles in the first six months of 2016 to 36.7 million bottles in the same period of 2017.

Diageo is one of the largest producers of Scotch whisky, operating 29 distilleries across Scotland.

According to Diageo, a tax hike of this kind would be “counter productive” as the treasury’s takings from Scotch fell below the chancellors predictions following a 3.9% spirits duty increase.

Over 40,000 people in the UK work for the whisky industry, with Diageo employing over 5,000.

Scotch whisky is one of the most exported food and drinks products in Britain.

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