Drinks leader makes switch

Frost leaves SWA for role in Boris’s Foreign Office

David Frost
David Frost

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost is leaving the organisation to take up a new role as foreign affairs special adviser to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

SWA deputy chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird will be acting CEO for the interim period before the appointment of a permanent replacement. 

Ms Hesketh-Laird joined the SWA in 2005 as director of operational & technical affairs and took the additional role of deputy chief executive in December 2014.

Mr Frost replaced Gavin Hewitt as chief executive in January 2014.  He was a career diplomat by profession and had held various senior roles in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, including as British Ambassador to Denmark, and in what was then the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Mr Frost said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as chief executive and I want to thank SWA members and my team for their support.

“Scotch Whisky is a wonderful industry to represent, vital to Scotland and to Britain, operating on a global scale, and held in affection by so many around the world.  I leave the Association and the industry well-placed to continue to succeed in a competitive market-place during a time of change, including Brexit.”

During his time he has led the organisation through the legal challenge to minimum pricing legislation and last year was successful in achieving the first cut in spirits duty in almost 20 years and only the fourth in a century.

He also oversaw the move of the SWA’s headquarters  from the west end of Edinburgh to the Quartermile development.

SWA chair Pierre Pringuet, vice-president of Pernod Ricard, said: “David has successfully modernised the Association during a challenging time for the industry both economically and politically.  We have very much valued his leadership and I am confident he leaves the SWA in a good position to face the future.”

SWA acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: “We are sorry to see David leaving the SWA, but wish him well in his exciting future role. I look forward to leading the Association for this transitional period and believe we have a great team to deal with whatever challenges face us.”

Before joining the SWA, Julie Hesketh-Laird was Scottish adviser for the Chemical Industries Association and previously worked for the CBI in London.

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