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WSTA to support British Distillers Alliance through Brexit

Published:  10 August, 2016

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has pledged to advise, support and protect smaller producers through the current period of economic and political uncertainty.

The WSTA is responding to the increased needs of smaller producers by offering on-going support to a new alliance of small distillers and other spirit producers.

The organisation said it is determined not to lose the momentum created by craft distilling and to ensure that Brexit doesn't stop the flow of trade.

A total of 1.25bn litres of spirits were exported from the UK in 2015, bringing in £5bn to the economy.

The WSTA is lending its support to the British Distillers' Alliance (BDA) which is aimed at start-up and small businesses in an effort to ensure that no-one gets "left behind".

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: "We look forward to supporting the BDA and to offering its members the opportunity to have their voice heard during this time of uncertainty.

"The WSTA have the experience and skills to work with government to achieve the best results for its members and the wider industry. It is crucial that the new government supports our thriving industry, allows it to continue to prosper and understands the contribution - and the potential - of the British spirits industry to the UK economy."

The WSTA is aiming to help its member spirit producers to manage the impact of Brexit, as well as to maximise the opportunities afforded by leaving the EU.

Work is already underway between the WSTA and government departments to plan how best to manage change, retain access to the internal market and secure tariff free international trade.

Another key issue which the WSTA will look to discuss with government is the "crippling" duty regime facing small distillers, which results in micro and start-up businesses losing up to 40% of their turnover in duty payments.

The organisation said that UK duty on a litre of spirits is £11.06 which means 74% of a bottle of spirits is accounted for by tax.

Following the cut in spirits duty achieved by the WSTA and campaign partners at the 2015 Budget, income to the Treasury increased on the previous year by £125m (+4.1%) from April 2015 to March 2016.

"The BDA was set up to help small and start-up distillers and associated businesses navigate the maze of regulatory requirements which can be intimidating. Potential businesses often need initial clear guidance and then close assistance whilst establishing themselves," Alan Powell, BDA founder and coordinator said.

"We are extremely pleased that the WSTA have agreed to support our alliance. By working together we hope to strengthen and grow our great British spirits industry."

Alex Wolpert, founder of the East London Liquor Company added: "Working together with the communities of the WSTA and BDA offers small distilleries like us a bigger voice with opportunities to share experiences and advice that helps us grow our brand, not only in the UK, but around the world. We welcome working with them both."

The UK spirits trade generates around £28.2bn in economic activity including sales worth £4bn for shops and supermarkets and £5.6bn for pubs, bars and restaurants.

The UK spirits industry employs 186,000 people directly and a further 110,000 in the supply chain.

In 2015, gin exports went to 139 countries hitting £421 million.