McEwan’s owner bemoans being ‘unpaid tax collector’

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PAUL Wells, chairman of the family-owned Wells & Young’s brewery in Bedford (and something of an amateur taxman, apparently), was in Edinburgh last week to launch McEwan’s Red, a session ale designed to appeal to under-50s who think Export and 80/- are “their dad’s drink”.

The new beer – the first to be launched since Wells bought McEwan’s and Younger’s from Heineken in 2011 – has the distinctive sweet flavour of the brand’s other beers, along with a red colour and a slightly roasted flavour on the tongue. But there is one factor that left a sour taste in Wells’ mouth.

“Our company turns over about £170 million a year – and about half of that is tax,” Wells told the assembled drinks hacks. “I’m not joking,” he added. “We’re like unpaid tax collectors.”

Thomson for Chancellor?

Could financier Ben Thomson, pictured right, founder of the Reform Scotland think-tank and an advocate of Devo Plus in the independence debate, be a future chancellor in a potential Scottish government?

When The Scotsman popped the question to him after a number-crunching presentation to an Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce dinner at the George Hotel, he was enthusiastic about the idea – “I’d love to do that,” he said.

But it might get in the way of his other ambition. “I would really like to be an elected mayor of Edinburgh,” he said. Now there’s a man in search of power.

CityUK boss toasts Scotch

Chris Cummings, chief executive of lobby group TheCityUK, took time out of a visit to a number of Edinburgh institutions last week to reflect on his time working and living in Ayrshire 15 years ago. He stayed at the Marine Highland in Troon and recalled how he got a taste for whisky sitting in the hotel bar.

“I must have tried them all over the course of a year,” he said. So how many would that be, Chris? “About 100,” he replied. That must be some sort of record.

Black will ‘never walk alone’

Former Scottish Enterprise mouthpiece Susan Black has joined the English Premiership with her latest move, becoming director of communications at Liverpool Football Club. A graduate of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Black joined Liverpool in 2011 and has been leading its comms team on an interim basis for the past six months.

‘Meat-centric solutions’

What do you call yourself if you are the proud manufacturer of “hotdogs on a stick”? Business desk operatives put up with a lot of language mangling, particularly when some corporate bright spark decides to describe themselves as a “solutions” provider – which is only acceptable if you sell saline water.

But we were bemused to discover that Chicago-based Hillshire Brands, the proud maker of the aforementioned delight, describes itself as “a leader in meat-centric food solutions”.