Diageo CEO Paul Walsh has pledged that the drinks group will consider alternatives to its planned job cuts in Scotland, following a meeting with Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond.

Walsh and other Diageo executives today (22 July) held talks with Salmond, who leads Scotland's ruling National Party, and Jack Perry, leader of business development agency Scottish Enterprise.

"We took the opportunity to reassure the first minister and Mr Perry that the company will listen to alternative proposals, which sustain its operations and investment in Scotch and Scotland for the long term," said a Diageo spokesperson.

"We also agreed to work closely with the consultants appointed by Scottish Enterprise to facilitate their independent assessment."

Prior to the meeting, Salmond said that he was "seeking assurances" that alternative proposals to Diageo's job cuts plan will be "properly considered" by the drinks giant. 

Diageo announced this month that it plans to cut 900 jobs in Scotland, inlcuding 700 by closing the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock, although the firm has pledged to create an extra 400 jobs at a new packaging site in Fife.

The group, which is the largest Scotch whisky producer, directly employs 4,500 people in the country.

Trade unions, politicians and Scottish Enterprise are working on a counter-proposal to put before Diageo.

"We think that with goodwill on all sides, then movement is possible towards a position which would be better and more acceptable to Scottish opinion, as well as meeting Diageo's key financial objectives," said Salmond.

Local football club Kilmarnock FC is hosting an online petition against Diageo's plan on its website. Fans are being urged to turn the upcoming pre-season friendly with Partick Thistle into a protest against the proposed job cuts.

The petition had more than 10,200 signatures by this morning.