WSTA Spirits Committee elects new chairman

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s Spirits Committee has elected Finn O’Driscoll, managing director of SHS Drinks, as its new chairman. He replaces Chris Searle.

The WSTA Spirits Committee is a forum for member companies to discuss and guide all aspects of policy and trade relating to spirit drinks, such as production, taxation and legislative matters.

The UK is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of spirits and the spirits industry supports hundreds of thousands of UK jobs, the highest contribution of any member state.

Despite the importance of the spirits sector to the UK - 18% of direct employment in the European spirit industry is in the UK, spirits duty has increased by 44% since 2008 and tax now accounts for 77% of an average price of a bottle of spirits.

O’Driscoll said: “I look forward to building on the excellent work achieved by the committee as it continues to address many important issues affecting the industry from work on free trade deals to fairer tax treatment.”

WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale said: “Finn brings a wealth of experience and offers unique insights as an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) brand owner, having worked in the sector for over 20 years.

With more than 20 years in the UK drinks sector at Griersons Blumenthal, Matthew Clark and Constellation Brands, O’Driscoll joined the SHS Group 14 years ago. He became joint managing director at Beverage Brands in 2009 before becoming managing director in 2013.

The drinks division of the SHS group owns, manufactures and markets soft and alcoholic drinks and is made up of four operating companies: Beverage Brands, Merrydown plc, Bottlegreen and Caledonian Bottlers.