Sunday, 31 October 2010

Boycott Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Bailey's and Moët & Chandon

This posting marks the point where the boycott is no longer limited to retail outlets but expands to include brands that you could find in many shops. It is also one I personal will find most awkward over the festive season, as a bottle of Bailey's at Christmas is a tradition in our house, for sipping after the kids are in bed, you're too full of turkey to move and there's a film on the TV or a new DVD to watch.

The subject of today's boycott call is Diageo.

Diageo is a global alcoholic drinks company headquartered in London. It is the world's largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine. Its brands include Smirnoff (the world's largest-selling vodka), Johnnie Walker (the world's largest-selling whisky), José Cuervo (the world's largest-selling tequila), Baileys (the world's largest-selling liqueur) and Guinness (the world's largest-selling stout). It also owns 34 per cent of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy. It sells its products in approximately 180 countries and has offices in 80 countries.

Diageo was formed in 1997 from the merger of Guinness plc and Grand Metropolitan plc.

In July 2009, Diageo announced that, after nearly 200 years of association with the town of Kilmarnock, they would be closing the Johnnie Walker blending and bottling plant as part of restructuring to the business. This would make 700 workers unemployed and caused outrage from press, local people and politicians. A campaign against this decision was launched by the local SNP MSP Willie Coffey and Labour MP Des Browne. A petition was drawn up against the Diageo plans, which also involves the closure of the historic Port Dundas Grain Distillery in Glasgow.

In February 2009, it was reported in the Guardian that the company had restructured itself so as to avoid paying tax in the U.K., despite much of its profits being generated in the U.K. Diageo is engaged in a tax scheme in the United States of America, commonly referred to as the "Rum Bailout". The National Puerto Rican Coalition plans to run a series of ads in New York City and Puerto Rico urging a boycott of Diageo-owned alcoholic drinks to protest the giant British-owned corporation’s controversial production move of its Captain Morgan rum from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Diageo is the holding company for some of the most recognisable alcohol brands, including:

* Beer: Guinness, Tusker, Smithwick's, Red Stripe, Harp Lager, Kilkenny, Kaliber (non alcoholic)
* Scotch whisky: Johnnie Walker, Buchanan's, Cardhu, Justerini & Brooks (J&B), Bell's, Black & White, Caol Ila, Vat 69, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Singleton, Haig, Royal Lochnagar, Glen Elgin, Knockando
* Baijiu: Shui Jing Fang
* Vodka: Smirnoff (Smirnov in Russia), Cîroc, Silent Sam, Popov, Ketel One
* Gin: Gordon's, Tanqueray, Gilbey's, Booth's
* Rum: Captain Morgan, Bundaberg, Pampero, Myers'
* Bourbon: Bulleit
* Canadian whisky: Crown Royal, Seagram's
* Irish whiskey: Bushmills
* Tennessee whiskey: George Dickel
* Schnapps: Black Haus, Goldschläger, Rumple Minze
* Mixed drinks: Archers, Pimm's, TGI Friday's
* Liqueur: Baileys, Sheridans, Yukon Jack, Godiva's
* Wines: Sterling Vineyards, Piat d'Or, Barton & Guestier, Beaulieu Vineyard, Blossom Hill, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Acacia, Moon Mountain, Dynamite, Chalone, Provenance Vineyards, Hewitt Vineyard, and Rosenblum.


Paul Walsh - DiageoPaul Walsh was appointed CEO of Diageo plc in September 2000, having been appointed a Director in December 1997. He attended the Royton and Crompton School. He initially wanted to become an RAF pilot but failed the medical due to colour blindness. He studied Accounting and Economics at Manchester Polytechnic. After leaving university, he spent six years with the Co-op as an accountant. In 1982, he joined the brewers Watney, Mann and Truman as a Financial Planning and Accounts Manager. This company was owned by Grand Metropolitan. In 1986 he became Finance Director of the Brewing Division. In 1987 he moved to America when he became CEO of Pillsbury, and joined the GrandMet board of directors in 1995, which became Diageo in December 1997.

He is Chairman of the Scottish Whisky Association despite neither being Scottish nor living in Scotland. He has a £4m house on a 35-acre (140,000 m2) country estate in West Sussex, and earns around £4m a year. He also has a 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) estate in South Africa. To put the size of that estate in context, were he to declare independence, his new country would be larger than Gibraltar, Monaco and the Vatican City combined.

In February 2010 Paul Walsh the CEO of Diageo issued a threat to take Diageo out of the UK altogether if his demand for lower personal and corporate taxation were not met.

"We enjoy operating out of London; it's got many advantages. However, if the UK, either from a corporate perspective or a personal tax perspective, becomes uncompetitive, we will be forced to look at alternatives," said Walsh in a television interview.

"We are a global business, we operate in 180 countries around the world. Our location here in London should not be taken for granted," he added – just weeks after speculation that Diageo was being courted by low-tax Switzerland to move its head office there.

On 18th October, Paul Walsh signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Paul Walsh is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all Diageo brands.

If you like a Guinness, you should enjoy a Murphy's but for other drinks please suggest suitable alternatives.


  1. I'll print this out although apart from guiness, pimms and baileys can't see it will be problem - phew!

  2. Vodka alternative - try Stolichnaya, you may never go back. I think Sainsbury's stock it (hopefully they are not on the boycott list, I'm new to this.)

  3. Calamity, Thank you for the Stolly suggestion. Sainsburys are NOT on the boycott list, neither are Morrisons or the Co-op.

    Welcome to the boycott.

  4. Boycott all Kentucky Bourbon. They donate a lot of money to Mitch McConnell who seems to control all Lawmaking in the US. If we destroy him, we might actually get out of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan someday. Boycott EVERYTHING USA. I live here. I wish I could get Americans to do it but they seem to be too busy watching Fox News.