Leading figure in the whisky industry;
Born: April 18, 1933; Died: February 22, 2013.
Anthony Derry, who has died aged 79, was a leading figure in the Scotch Whisky industry during the 1970s and 80s and a former director of the Scotch Whisky Association. He was CEO of the international wine and spirits division of Whitbread plc at a time when the former beer giant had become a major player in whisky and other spirits with brands such as Long John, Laphroaig, Tormore and Beefeater gin. He was based in Perth or Crieff before he retired to Florida in 1990.
Mr Derry was also a founding investor in Loch Fyne restaurants, the chain which blossomed from the original Loch Fyne Oyster bar on the A83 at Cairndow in Argyll to become a UK-wide phenomenon, with his son Mark Derry co-owner of the chain until it was sold to the Greene King brewery in 2007.
Anthony Edward Derry was born in the village of Peterchurch, Herefordshire, not far from the Welsh border, and attended St Owens Boys' School in the county town of Hereford. Barely turned 17, he enlisted in the Royal Marines in 1950 and served on the original HMS Sheffield, a cruiser which had battled German warships during the Second World War and was later broken up at Faslane in 1967. (The later HMS Sheffield was hit, and eventually sunk by an Exocet missile fired by an Argentinian fighter plane during the Falklands War ).
On the old Sheffield, Mr Derry served as part of an escorting Royal Marines platoon to defend the Royal Yacht Britannia, built by John Brown in Clydebank and now retired as an exhibition vessel at Ocean Terminal, Leith. After the Marines, he served through the rest of the 1950s as a police officer in Herefordshire.
He had spent 10 years in the licensing trade in England, latterly as a sales manager for the big Ind Coope brewery, before he began his love affair with Scotland in 1969. He joined Bell's Whisky, initially as sales manager for England and Wales and eventually as international sales director, based in Crieff, where he helped the legendary Bell's chief Raymond Miquel boost sales 10-fold. In 1981, he moved to Whitbread plc at a time when the historic brewing company saw its future in whisky and other spirits, long before it switched to leisure brands such as Premier Inn and Costa Coffee.
After retiring in 1990, Mr Derry moved to Florida and settled on Longboat Key, a narrow strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico, where he set up the Longboat Beverage Corporation, producing and bottling tequila and bourbon. After a few years, he gave up the licensing trade to take it easy and play golf.
By then, he had invested in the Loch Fyne restaurants venture, launched by his son Mark and fellow-entrepreneur Ian Glyn and based on the fresh produce of the oyster farm and restaurant and bar at Cairndow by Loch Fyne. The venture would soon become a chain of more than 40 seafood restaurants across the UK and was sold to Greene King in 2007 for a reported £68mn.
Mr Derry was also, in the late 1980s, a director of Scottish Business in the Community (SBC), based at Heriot-Watt University campus, which strives to challenge business people to support local communities. "He was actively involved in a concept that is still difficult for many organisations to grasp – CSR (corporate social responsibility)," according to SBC spokesman Todd Henshaw. "He was one of the first business people in Scotland, to drive this agenda, helping shape Scotland's businesses be more responsible and sustainable."
Anthony Derry died in his south-west Florida home. He is survived by his wife Micky, children Ann, Ceri and Mark, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and his sister Margaret.
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