Autumn Statement 2013: Diageo boss Paul Walsh - 'Our tax regime is competitive'

The drinks giant's outgoing CEO Paul Walsh says we still 'have a long way to go' in making Britain competitive but steps have been made.

by Elizabeth Anderson

Picking up the award for Britain's Most Admired Company 2013, Diageo's outgoing CEO Paul Walsh said credit should be given to the government for ‘the growth which is starting to come through’ and that the government has worked hard to make sure Britain is open for business.

‘The government has worked very hard to make sure our tax regime is competitive and it is becoming so – it’s not quite there. But good steps have been taken and we need to make sure we stay true to this course,’ Walsh said ahead of the Autumn Statement.

He also said the government should stick to its current plan for growth: ‘We have to give credit to the current government for the growth that is starting to come through. We need…to protect and nurture that growth. We’re still in the early stages. Let’s not put the banners out yet.’

Speaking at the launch of Britain’s Most Admired Companies awards, hosted at Claridge’s on Tuesday evening, Paul Walsh attributed Diageo’s win to a single company message. ‘All our colleagues round the world have embraced the notion to promote our product responsibly. We do understand that in the hands of certain consumers, problems can be created. But the way the company has embraced our marketing code is, I find, incredibly energising,’ he told MT.

Diageo has won BMAC three times. With three wins under its belt, emerging-markets expert Diageo is now second only to the once-mighty Tesco in the annals of BMAC history. Tesco won no fewer than six times in the noughties, although today’s gloomy Q3 results suggest that it may be a while before beleaguered boss Phil Clarke adds a seventh to that tally.

Collecting the award, Walsh said: ‘The BMAC award is an incredible source of pride and energy for our employees - not only in the UK but around the world. So I thank you all for recognising us in this way.’

He added: ‘I’m moving to a different stage in my career, having spent 33 years with Diageo, 13 years at the helm. And it's been fantastic and awards like this do matter. Certainly as I sip my Blue Label this Christmas by the fire, I will treasure this.'

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