Eddie sets out to ‘grasp the thistle’

Eddie Lynagh became president of Scottish Wholesale for the second time in June. Last month he spoke to Scottish Grocer about returning to the role and his aims for the future.

EDDIE Lynagh, area manager for Booker Greenock, has a long history with the SWA.
Joining the council in the 1990s, he was elected vice-president in 2001 and became president for the first time in 2003. He was returned to the top job at the association’s conference this June, becoming only the second individual to hold the office for a second term.
Lynagh said it was chance more than design that had brought him back to the role, but it is a place he’s happy to be.

Eddie Lynagh
Eddie Lynagh, president, Scottish Wholesale.

“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “I think we live in interesting times and Scottish Wholesale has a lot of work to do. That’s why I’m happy to be back.”
Lynagh’s first term in office was defined by legislation, covering the years prior to the formation of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. And it seems history is set to repeat itself, as he and the association face up to the Scottish Parliament impending and proposed initiatives like Labour’s Alcohol Bill, the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme and Bottle Deposit Return System.
“Part of the problem is that there’s so much being thrown up that it’s hard to know where to start,” he said. “The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme could be a big thing for us. My fear is that a lot of people will hear the words ‘wholesale alcohol registration’ and think it has nothing to do with them. But if you’re a retailer who commonly deals in large quantities of alcohol, you will have to register as a wholesaler.
“And if you’re an alcohol retailer you will have to make sure you only buy from a registered alcohol wholesaler, or you’re the one committing an offence.
“It’s another one of these things that’s come in under the radar like the Deposit Return System. That started out as one line in a bill that was passed seven years ago.
“So it’s not just Scotland’s changing political landscape we have to deal with, but the amount of legislation, the speed and the manner in which it’s going through.”
Lynagh said it was for this reason that Scottish Wholesale had hired Caledonia Public Affairs, a political PR company founded by former MSP Margaret Smith.
“We felt we needed someone to fill that lobbying role for us. We’ve set up plans for Margaret to work hand-in-hand with the SGF on new and proposed legislation, because it affects us all. We need to work together. If there’s one thing I can do going forward that’ll be it.”
Lynagh has already decided on the theme of next year’s conference, which he says will be titled ‘Grasp the Thistle’.
“The reason I chose it is because I see us setting out to do two things. First, suppliers in a lot of cases could improve their dealings with Scotland, understanding the kind of specific issues Scotland has. We can help with that.
“Secondly, we need to grasp the thistle on the political side. And it’s not about the SNP or Labour or the Tories, it’s about the Scottish Government, whoever they are, what they’re doing and how we deal with it.”