Pernod Ricard’s UK head and the new chair of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association Denis O’Flynn has called on the trade to back the campaign for a 2% duty cut and help create 20,000 jobs.

O’Flynn told OLN the industry must unite to put pressure on the Chancellor ahead of his Budget statement on March 18.

He cited figures showing the trade pumps £45 billion of economic activity into the country and said a duty cut would support future investment and growth.

He said: “A recent independent analysis by Ernst and Young has found that a modest 2% cut in duty on wine and would lead to the creation of more than 20,000 jobs across the UK. This would enable producers to invest and expand their businesses, boosting the UK economy and thereby generating more than £1 billion extra for the public finances. This has got to be good news for the Chancellor.

“The UK is Europe’s leading spirits producer, accounting for 18% of all spirits industry employment across the 28 member states of the EU. Take the Scotch whisky industry, which has seen exports increase by more than 80% in the last 10 years. I wonder how many people realise that Scotch Whisky now accounts for a quarter of all UK food and drink exports or that the UK also produces and exports huge volumes of vodka and gin, with British gin now accounting for around 20% of the world’s gin market.”

He added that retailers and producers should be “proud” of their contribution to the country’s wealth and fight for a fairer deal.

He added: “We should be proud that the wine and spirits industry is big business globally, that the UK is a leading market for the production, distribution and retail of wine and spirits. I am concerned that investment, growth and success is continually being undermined. The root cause is a tax regime that is not only regressive for business, but also deeply unfair to UK consumers.

“Incredibly, UK consumers currently pay nearly 80% tax on an average priced bottle of spirits and almost 60% on an average priced bottle of wine. British consumers pay more alcohol duty than consumers in Germany, France, Poland, Italy and Spain combined. Take France, for example, French consumers pay just over £3.50 in duty for an average-priced bottle of spirits.  UK consumers pay more than double that.   For wine, the unfairness is even starker: French consumers pay about a third the amount of duty we pay over here.”

He urged the trade to support the WSTA’s Drop the Duty campaign by sending an email to your MP via