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Scotland Food & Drink appoints new chief executive

A well-known figure in the whisky industry has been appointed new chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink (SF&D).

Iain Baxter takes over the role from James Withers who announced earlier this year he was stepping down after nearly 11 years a the helm.

Mr Baxter has more than 15 years experience within Scotch whisky having worked at Glenmorangie, Inver House, International Beverage, and latterly Ian Macleod Distillers.

SF&D said his appointment would bring a “deep understanding of Scotland’s food and drink industry from a new perspective”.

As well as his roles within the drink sector, Mr Baxter has held senior change management roles within housing associations and was sales and marketing director at Caledonian Sleeper between 2015 and 2018.

‘Dynamic time’ for Scottish food & drink

Mr Baxter, who has an MBA from University of Dundee, said: “I am delighted to be joining Scotland Food & Drink at this dynamic time in our national food and drink story.

“We will of course face domestic and global challenges; not least the economic and environmental headwinds, which cannot be underestimated.

“However, with the enviable strength of our national food and drink brand, rooted in the passion and commitment of everyone involved in the sector, I am confident that Scotland is well positioned for strong growth.”

Appointment helps fulfil ambition

SF&D was launched in 2007 to grow the value and reputation of the nation’s food and drink industry. It now boasts more than 420 member companies, mostly food and drink manufacturers.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of Genius Foods and chairwoman of SF&D said: “Following a rigorous search process led by Carlyle, Iain stood out as the ideal candidate to take Scotland Food & Drink into the next chapter of the organisation.

“Iain’s experience leading change across industries will be invaluable as we face up to harsh macro-economic realities that face our and every other area of the economy.

“In his whisky career, Iain championed Scotland’s national drink around the world, and will help us fulfil our ambition to promote Scotland globally as a land of food and drink.”

Mr Baxter will start on October 31, with John Davidson – who is currently deputy chief executive and strategy director – acting as interim until then.

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