Monday 17 December 2018

Diageo boss calls for 'sensible' drink rules

Ollie Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, at St James’s Gate in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ollie Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, at St James’s Gate in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Ollie Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, has warned that new restrictions on the marketing of alcohol could damage Ireland's brands abroad and hit investment.

"It could have very significant negative consequences in terms of international reputation of Irish brands and of their growth abroad.

"And, ultimately, I think that will have an impact on investment in Ireland," he said.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is the Government's attempt to curb alcohol abuse in Ireland. The drinks industry has been lobbying hard against it.

"I would call on the Government to engage with the industry and find a way to work with us to find an appropriate, sensible solution that tackles misuse problems. But one that doesn't set us back in terms of our international reputation and our export growth and our investment in Ireland."

Loomes said he accepted that there was alcohol mis-use in Ireland, which was not good for Diageo or society. He also said that he does not have an issue with new legislation.

"We want an alcohol bill that's evidence based, that's proportionate and ultimately something that's sensible. We want an alcohol bill that's pointed at the problem of alcohol misuse, not pointed at products and the industry and the average consumer," said Loomes.

"I think it's worth remembering that we actually have a wonderful industry, we've got some wonderful Irish brands and products that have become huge Irish success stories on the international stage, accounting for very significant exports," he added.

"And, definitely, we want to be proactive in terms of how we get after misuse of alcohol in Ireland."

He said that the proposed alcohol rules were coming at a time when the food and drinks sector was facing into uncertainty around Brexit.

"Our estimate is that we would have something like 18,000 cross-border truck movements a year between beer and Baileys, which is clearly a very significant quantity of truck movements.

"And when you get into the impact in terms of costs, of delays at borders and so on, that would have a big impact on our business in terms of cost but also just complexity and ability to run our business."

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