The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has announced that Mark Kent, former British Ambassador to Argentina, will succeed Karen Betts as chief executive when Betts leaves the SWA later this year.
Scotch Whisky exports were worth £3.8 billion in 2020, down from £4.9 billion in 2019.
In 2019, Scotch Whisky accounted for 75% of Scottish food and drink exports and 21% of all UK food and drink exports.
More than 10,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch Whisky industry in Scotland and over 40,000 jobs across the UK are supported by the industry.
Kent joins the SWA following more than three decades with the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Most recently, he served as Ambassador to Argentina from 2016 to June 2021.
He also served as the Ambassador to Thailand, Ambassador to Vietnam, as well as roles at British Embassies in Mexico City, Brasilia and the UK Representation to the European Union.
Commenting on his appointment as the ninth chief executive in the SWA’s 110-year history, Kent said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association.
“As a former Ambassador, I know in what high regard the Scotch Whisky industry and the SWA is held worldwide.
“After a challenging period, I’m looking forward to helping the industry to unleash its full potential and enable people across the globe to discover and enjoy our premium and iconic product.
“The Scotch Whisky industry has a fantastic history, great stories to tell and continues to innovate. I can’t wait to get started.”
Scott McCroskie, Edrington CEO and chair of the SWA Council, added: “I am delighted that Mark will be joining the Scotch Whisky Association, to lead the organisation’s and the industry’s next exciting chapter. Mark brings with him an outstanding depth of experience which will allow the SWA to continue to support the industry’s interests around the world.
“We look forward to working with him as the industry looks to make new ground in key growth markets and build a sustainable future for the industry by continuing our push towards net-zero.”
Kent, who will take up the position in January 2022, will take over from Karen Betts, who leaves the SWA in December 2021 to take over as Chief Executive at the Food and Drink Federation.
Kent graduated in Law from the University of Oxford and gained a Masters degree in European Law and Economics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.