A FORMER senior executive in the whisky industry has been announced as the new chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink - an industry leadership body.

Iain Baxter - who has 15 years experience with firms such as Glenmorangie, Inver House, International Beverage, and Ian Macleod Distillers - will start his new role on October 31, with current deputy CEO John Davidson acting as interim until then.

The organisation has a 400-strong membership of businesses and has been described as “the voice” of Scotland’s £15 billion food and drink sector.

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Baxter will be tasked with increasing exports and the development of Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in sustainable food and drink production.

Outwith his experience in the drinks sector, Baxter has held management roles in housing and the rail industry, being sales and marketing director at the Caledonian Sleeper between 2015 and 2018.

He will take over from James Withers who resigned in May after 11 years in the role.

The announcement has been welcomed by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of Genius Foods and chair of Scotland Food & Drink, who described Baxter as the “ideal candidate”.

She said: “Following a rigorous search process led by Carlyle, Iain stood out as the ideal candidate to take Scotland Food & Drink into the next chapter of the organisation. Iain’s experience leading change across industries will be invaluable as we face up to harsh macro-economic realities that face our and every other area of the economy.

“In his whisky career, Iain championed Scotland’s national drink around the world, and will help us fulfil our ambition to promote Scotland globally as a land of food and drink.”

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Baxter has said that he is “delighted” to be joining Scotland Food & Drink, at what he describes as a “dynamic time” for the sector.

He added: “We will of course face domestic and global challenges; not least the economic and environmental headwinds, which cannot be underestimated. However, with the enviable strength of our national food and drink brand, rooted in the passion and commitment of everyone involved in the sector, I am confident that Scotland is well positioned for strong growth.

“I am excited to be working with a great team, with our members, our industry partners and the Scottish Government to ensure we take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”