Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Diageo will listen - Salmond

Press conferences galore today, even though parliament has broken up for the summer.

It was Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond who had the "diary clash" today. Brown has moved his monthly pres conference to midday so Salmond, who was in town to meet with Paul Walsh, the chief executive of Diageo, considerately postponed his until after lunch.

Yesterday was the first face to face meeting Salmond and Walsh have had on the proposed closure of the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas plants, although obviously the two men know each other. They are both Keepers of the Quaich, the invitation only organisation for people associated with Scotch whisky.

Salmond emerged with an assurance that the alternative business case being worked up by Jack Perry at Scottish Enterprise will be given serious consideration by the company, but he again stopped short again of offering any financial or infrastructure measure that might be an incentive to Diageo to change their mind.

Here's what he told us: "I believe the business case will be properly considered. We are in an extraordinarily difficult position, and I'm not under-rating the commitment Diageo have to the business case they have formulated.

"But I'm more positive after the meeting because I accept the assurances that this is something that will be properly considered." "Also, I believe that it should be possible to get a better outcome, to reconcile the business bottom line with a Scottish bottom line."

The Scottish Enterprise business case should be ready next month and there is a rally in Kilmarnock this Sunday in support of keeping Johnny Walker in the town.

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