A leading independent spirits retailer has slammed the performance of the UK drinks industry, claiming its "record is appalling" when it comes to the handling of Scotch in the country.

Ian Bankier, who owns The Whisky Shop, a national chain of 15 dedicated whisky retail outlets, claimed the major spirits producers had placed the UK in the "too difficult" category.

He said the companies had given the UK a low-priority status, and then "allowed it to be damaged further by plundering the market for short-term volume gains. The industry's record is appalling," he added.

Speaking at the Skalli & cie briefing at the London International Wine & Spirits Fair yesterday (23 May) , Bankier said: "For such a globally successful industry, the UK represents a major underperformance. This is not only embarrassing but it is unacceptable. We have to break this circle."

Bankier said the industry had to stop thinking for the short term. In particular he called for a revision of the costly distribution set up in the UK and an end to Christmas discounting.

"We especially need to rethink the discount mentality at Christmas," he said. "You can't go into Christmas without a turkey for the table, toys for the kids or a bottle of booze. Do people want a deal? Are people looking for a deal? No. But the promotion period around Christmas is engrained."

Bankier was also critical of the roll of the supermarkets. "No brand owner can ignore the supermarkets because they deliver volume and their dominance is supreme," he said. Yet they kill brands because they take so much value out of the category. It's a vicious circle."