The WSTA says ‘post Brexit’, the industry finds itself in a time of uncertainty and smaller producers want advice, support and protection.
Craft distilling is booming and exports of UK spirits are at an all-time high, says the association which represents more than 300 UK companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits..
A total of 1.25billion litres of spirits were exported from the UK in 2015 bringing in £5bn to the economy.
The WSTA says it is determined not to lose this momentum and ensure that Brexit doesn't stop the flow of trade. The association is lending its support to the British Distillers’ Alliance (BDA) which is aimed at start-up and small businesses to ensure that no-one gets left behind in these uncertain times.
The WSTA says it aims to help its member spirit producers to manage the impact and uncertainty, as well as to maximise the opportunities afforded by leaving the EU.
It will work with the BDA to provide support and direction to help small distillers focus on compliance at the early stages of their business and to ensure on-going awareness of obligations. As BDA members grow their business, the WSTA will be in a position to offer them help over a wider range of topics, including exporting opportunities.
Work is said to be already underway between the WSTA and government departments to plan how best to manage change, retain access to the internal market and secure tariff free international trade.
Another key issue which the WSTA says it will look to discuss with government is the crippling duty regime facing small distillers, which results in micro and start-up businesses losing up to 40% of their turnover in duty payments. UK duty on a litre of spirits is £11.06 which means 74% of a bottle of spirits is accounted for by tax. Following the cut in spirits duty achieved by the WSTA and campaign partners at the 2015 Budget, income to the Treasury increased on the previous year by £125m (+4.1%) from April 2015 to March 2016.
The WSTA says UK spirits trade generates some £28.2bn in economic activity including sales worth £4bn for shops and supermarkets and £5.6bn for pubs, bars and restaurants. The UK spirits industry employs 186,000 people directly and a further 110,000 in the supply chain. Its international spirits can boast both the exports success of today and the potential needed for our tomorrow. In 2015 gin exports alone went to 139 countries hitting £421m.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale (pictured), said: "We look forward to supporting the BDA and to offering its members the opportunity to have their voice heard during this time of uncertainty.
"The WSTA have the experience and skills to work with government to achieve the best results for its members and the wider industry.
"It is crucial that the new government supports our thriving industry, allows it to continue to prosper and understands the contribution - and the potential - of the British spirits industry to the UK economy."
Alan Powell, BDA founder and coordinator, said: "The BDA was set up to help small and start-up distillers and associated businesses navigate the maze of regulatory requirements which can be intimidating. Potential businesses often need initial clear guidance and then close assistance whilst establishing themselves.
“We are extremely pleased that the WSTA has agreed to support our alliance. By working together we hope to strengthen and grow our great British spirits industry," said Powell.
Alex Wolpert, founder of the East London Liquor Company, added: “Working together with the communities of the WSTA and BDA offers small distilleries like us a bigger voice with opportunities to share experiences and advice that helps us grow our brand, not only in the UK, but around the world. We welcome working with them both.”