Scots brands could face ‘buy English’ backlash

The English Whisky Co is predicting a boost to the English spirits trade. Picture: Contributed
The English Whisky Co is predicting a boost to the English spirits trade. Picture: Contributed
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BRANDS strongly identified with Scotland could face a “buy English” backlash south of the Border in the event of a Yes vote, it has been claimed.

Businesses have said English consumers may reach for alternative home-grown produce as they assert their own national identity in the wake of a break up of the United Kingdom. Acc­ording to Andrew Nelstrop, managing director of the English Whisky Company, based at the St George’s distillery in Norfolk, the knock-on benefits for the nascent English whisky sector were obvious.

He said that while there was likely to be a boost to the English whisky trade as Scotland sought to renegotiate its way back into the EU following secession from the UK, it would also result in people buying English products as an expression of national pride. Nelstrop added: “For those of us who have mature whisky, there’s going to be a period where a bit of national pride comes to the fore for a country like England – which generally doesn’t show any pride at all – and should Scottish independence loom, it will grow a little faster than before.”

Brand consultant Lou Ellerton, of London-based marketing company The Value Engineers, said that there was good reason to believe that English shoppers would look to reinforce their own cultural identity by opting for indigenous products,

Ellerton said: “I think the biggest and most interesting area will be for those that have been traditionally dominated by Scottish products, such a Aberdeen Angus beef, Scotch whisky, things like shortbread, where it’s possible that canny English brands will see it as an opportunity to get attention above and beyond what they could afford with the funds available.

“Potentially, it’s going to allow them to play up against some of the big boys in their categories.”

Walkers Shortbread managing director Jim Walker acknowledged that there was potential for an impact on brands and products that were strongly identified as Scottish in the wake of a Yes vote. “Walkers certainly is a visible brand, and it stands to gain or lose more than other companies in the event of any effect on business,” said.

The company, he said, had taken the decision to remain neutral on Scottish independence at the start of the camp­aign and had been firm in its stance since then, insisting that it would back the country whatever the outcome of the vote.