The head of Diageo has warned that the offer of public funding alone will not be enough to reverse the company's decision to cut a net 500 jobs in Scotland.

Speaking earlier today (27 August), Paul Walsh said that the company would consider proposed alternatives, but that public funds does not constitute a viable alternative.

"I'm not after Government money," said Walsh. "Our plan in Scotland not only calls for the closure of Port Dundas and Kilmarnock, but also calls for aggressive investment and job creation in our existing two packaging plants. We have planned that and that's what we will execute, absent any other ideas.

"However," he continued, "we think that some of the proposals coming forward may seek some hybrid solution, and we need to be very very careful that we don't compromise the competitive edge in the two facilities that we're trying to invest in, in order to try and accommodate the needs of politicians. If we do, then we put in jeopardy the future of the 4,000 employees that remain.

"If a proposal comes forward and there is a value gap, somebody - and it's not our shareholders - will have to make that up."

Walsh was talking at a press conference today, following the release of Diageo's full-year results this morning.

Walsh also said that he felt the company had seen slowing growth in the high-end sector in the year to the end of June. "Our ultra-premium brands, yes, the growth has come off in that category," he said. "A year or so ago, we were looking at 15% to 20% growth in the super-premium and ultra-premium categories. We estimate it's now probably growing at around 5%, so it's still growing."

Walsh added that the company had introduced smaller pack sizes to accommodate consumers wanting to spend less, but remain brand loyal. "That keeps the consumer in the franchise, meets their aspirations and recognises that, at that moment, they just don't have the financial strength to afford the litre or the 70 centilitre, they've got to go for the 50 centilitre or whatever," he said.

"We've recognised that there's more activity at lower price points. The great thing with us is that these brands are already within our portfolio, we just to need to give them a bit more emphasis in this current environment."

Towards the end of the conference, when asked if walking away from the long-running talks with Vijay Mallya's United Spirits in India was a missed opportunity, Walsh said: "I know his price expectations, you don't. So, I still say no."

Going forward, Walsh warned that the company would struggle to cycle the first three months of the last fiscal year. "The first quarter (of the last fiscal year) was extremely strong," he said. "July, August and September last year were good months for us, and we're going to have to comp that. We're still lapping very tough numbers.

"For us, it's really in the second half that we will start to expect real improvements in our categories and in our markets."