29 October 1999

Sheep czar appointed for Scotland

INTERNATIONAL businessman Andrew Dewar-Durie has been given the task of identifying ways to help the Scottish sheep industry market its way out of the current difficulties.

Mr Dewar-Durie, chairman of Allied Distillers, was appointed this week by Scottish farm minister, Ross Finnie, and asked to produce a report within the next six months. He will assess the markets available to Scottish sheep producers and offer advice on any changes needed.

In particular, Mr Dewar-Durie will consider whether the industry is making best use of opportunities at home and abroad. He will decide what strategies should be adopted at each stage in the production and marketing chain.

Mr Finnie said he was delighted that Mr Dewar-Durie had accepted the task, but warned that no individual could wave a magic wand and solve all the problems afflicting the sheep sector.

Although there were many good businessmen working in the sheep industry, someone from outside was needed to take an overview of all the opportunities, Mr Finnie said.

"The objective for Mr Dewar-Durie is not to try to solve all the problems of the industry, but to bring that fresh look and investigate market opportunities," he added.

Mr Dewar-Durie said he would embark on his task with no preconceived ideas. "I want to listen and learn from as broad a range of opinions as possible."

He added: "We live in a world of constant change. The challenge is to make that change positive."

Jim Walker, president of the Scottish NFU, said the appointment of someone who might introduce fresh ideas was to be welcomed given the state of the industry.

"Mr Dewar-Durie knows exporting inside out, but comes to the sheep industry without any baggage or vested interest, which could be a very positive thing," he said.

Scotland had been successful in branding Scotch beef, but had been unable to do the same with lamb. "Maybe someone with a fresh approach can help us rectify that," Mr Walker added.

Allied Distillers is the second largest company in the Scotch whisky industry.

, selling brands such as Laphroaig. It produces 11m cases of spirits a year, 90% of which are exported.