Scots voice outrage at Diageo's plan to close Perth spirits HQ

SCOTTISH MPs were outraged yesterday at a decision by Diageo, the biggest drinks company in the world, to turn its back on Scotland by closing its spirits sales and marketing headquarters in Perth, writes Andrew Yates. The move is likely to lead to hundreds of job losses.

It is another bitter blow for Perth, coming just 24 hours after Commercial Union and General Accident announced merger plans which leaves thousands of workers facing an uncertain future with the combined group looking to locate their new headquarters in London.

Diageo, which was formed in December by the mega-merger between Grand Metropolitan and Guinness, has chosen Harlow in Essex as its marketing base, where is already has an existing sales office.

The site in Perth marketed leading brands such as Bells whisky and Gordons gin. "It is a sad day for Scotland but this put us much closer to our main customers," said a Diageo spokesman. Angry Scottish nationalists today attacked the decision.

Roseanna Cunningham, the town's MP, warned that Diageo would live to regret its decision: "I find it astonishing that in 1998, with modern communications and excellent transport links, a company of this size should give weight to considerations of geographical proximity to the head offices of the supermarket chains."