The Portman Group’s search for a new Chair has come to an end, with the social responsibility and regulatory body for alcohol in the UK appointing former senior civil servant Philip Rycroft.

Philip was most recently the Permeant Secretary to the Department for Exiting the EU. He brings to the role a rare mix of both business and government experience, having undertaken senior positions in both the public and private sectors.

Philip began his civil service career at the Scottish Office in 1989, followed by a secondment to the Cabinet Office for Sir Leon Brittan in the European Commission. He later served as the Director-General for Business and Innovation at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, before becoming Director-General for Innovation and Enterprise and Chief Executive of the Better Regulation Executive. He was the Director-General to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office serving Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP from 2012 up to the May 2015 election.

His private sector experience includes time as the Director for Corporate Affairs at Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, a former Fortune 500 investment holding company. In addition to this, he has valuable experience in the alcohol sector, having worked as an adviser to Scottish & Newcastle plc (since acquired by Heineken).

2020 has been a time of exceptional growth for the Portman Group as five additional members have joined – Asahi, Aston Manor, Campari, SHS Drinks and Thatchers. Rycroft is eager to look to the group’s future and believes bringing more producers and retailers, large and small, into the fold is crucial. Currently, the Portman Group has more than 130 organisations including producers, pub companies, retailers and member bodies signed up as Code Signatories, committed to upholding the Code of Practice.

Speaking about his new role, Philip Rycroft said: “It is with great pleasure that I join the Portman Group, the first industry regulator committed to supporting moderation and responsible drinking. Like so many industries, drinks producers and retailers are facing into an incredibly tough external environment and I’m keen to play my part, steering the Portman Group to showcase their best practice and commitment to social responsibility.”

“For the good of the self-regulatory model I hope to maintain and then accelerate the exceptional membership growth of 2020. We have a huge cross section of support for the Portman Group model shown in the range of bodies who are signatories to the Code. If more joined us as members, the future of the industry could be built using their perspectives. They would also benefit from the chance to work with their peers, accessing unrivalled policy and communications analysis as well as fast-tracked regulatory advice and training services.”

John Timothy, Chief Executive of the Portman Group says:

“Securing someone of Philip’s stature as our new Chair is a real coup for the Portman Group. We are privileged to have his insight, knowledge and expertise. He understands the mechanics of the Scottish and UK Governments as well as the motivations of socially conscious businesses. We are eager for him to begin shaping the next stage of the Portman Group’s journey as we work with Government to secure the right result on the obesity strategy, navigate the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and enhance opportunities for across society for greater take-up of exciting new low and no products.”

Philip Rycroft replaces former Chair Sir Martin Narey who stepped down in November 2019.