A FORMER diplomat has been appointed as the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.

Mark Kent, former British ambassador to Argentina, will succeed Karen Betts.

Kent, who was ambassador in Argentina for five years, joins the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) after more than three decades with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, including stints as ambassador to Thailand and Vietnam. He will take up the new position in January.

Speaking about his appointment as the ninth chief executive in the SWA’s 110-year history, Kent said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as CEO of the SWA.

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“As a former ambassador, I know in what high regard the Scotch whisky industry and the SWA is held worldwide.

“After a challenging period, I’m looking forward to helping the industry to unleash its full potential and enable people across the globe to discover and enjoy our premium and iconic product.

“The Scotch whisky industry has a fantastic history, great stories to tell and continues to innovate. I can’t wait to get started.”

Kent graduated in law from Oxford University and gained a masters degree in European law and economics from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

He has a further postgraduate qualification in business administration from the Open University and has language qualifications in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Vietnamese and Thai.

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Welcoming Kent to the role, Scott McCroskie, chairman of the SWA Council, said: “I am delighted that Mark will be joining the Scotch Whisky Association, to lead the organisation’s and the industry’s next exciting chapter.

“Mark brings with him an outstanding depth of experience which will allow the SWA to continue to support the industry’s interests around the world.

“We look forward to working with him as the industry looks to make new ground in key growth markets and build a sustainable future for the industry by continuing our push towards net zero.”

Betts leaves the SWA in December 2021 to take over as chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation.