Blog: WSTA's loss is BSDA's gain with Partington appointment

James Wilmore | 10 July 2012

It's taken a while, six months in fact, but the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has finally found a new boss. And I think the wait will be worth its while. 

Gavin Partington, who began his career as a political broadcast journalist, is a vastly experienced corporate communications bod, who knows how the Westminster machine works, and, equally important, how to present an argument.

Anyone who has heard him on BBC Radio 4's Today programme defend the drinks industry over the threat of minimum pricing on numerous occasions, will know he is not easily flustered - even in the face of a thorny issue ... and John Humphrys.

It also helps that he's an affable and approachable chap. 

But, he'll need all these qualities in his role as the BSDA's director general. One issue that will regularly crop up in Partington's inbox will, of course, be the soft drinks industry's role in tackling obesity. Sorting out the "problems" around alcohol is still a big focus for the UK government, but obesity is almost of equal importance.  

After four years at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), it's a shame Partington never made it to the top job. Perhaps he tired of fighting the good fight over minimum pricing, as the political argument has all but been lost.

Meanwhile, the WSTA's new boss, Miles Beale, a newcomer to the drinks industry, will have to cope without the hand-holding of Partington.

To me, it appears that the WSTA's loss is the BSDA's gain.


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