JOHN Watson, the printing industry survivor who has just sold his Glasgow business in a "serious multimillion-pound" deal", has absolutely no regrets about not passing on ownership of the company to the sixth generation of the family.

He revealed that sons Angus and Sandy, who work in the business, did not even know that the Scotch whisky label-printing specialist was to be sold to US giant Multi-Color Corporation until about a week before the deal was announced because he had been bound by confidentiality agreements. A similar arrangement had applied, he noted, when John Watson & Company agreed initial terms late last year for a takeover by Canadian group CCL, a proposed deal which did not conclude.

Asked if he had any regrets about ownership of the business not passing on to the next generation, with the sale to MCC, Mr Watson replied: "No. They were looked after. They are fine.

"From everyone's point of view, there are opportunities on a global perspective now."

And he emphasised that he had absolutely no doubt about his decision to sell, highlighting a desire by John Watson & Company's customers in the Scotch whisky sector to deal with a local player but also have access to a global presence for their label-printing needs.

Mr Watson said: "The Diageos (and) Pernod Ricards, the big drinks companies, they love you to be local. They (also) really want you to have a global footprint."

Asked whether he had discussed the decision to sell with his sons, Mr Watson, touching on the previous talks with CCL as well as the MCC negotiations, replied: "Unfortunately, it was very difficult. Because I was under confidentiality agreements, I couldn't discuss either of the deals with anyone, just until a week before the announcement. That is quite normal to be under a confidentiality agreement."

Knowledge of the impending deal with MCC was limited to Mr Watson and his two fellow board members, joint managing directors Robert McLachlan and Allan McDonnell, and certain members of the senior management team who had to produce figures. MCC, which owns the former Labelgraphics business at Clydebank, approached John Watson & Company about a potential takeover back in February,

Asked if Angus and Sandy, who are staying on in the business under its new ownership, were happy with the decision to sell, he replied: "Yes. They were."

Angus has been with the business for eight years, and Sandy for five years. Both joined the firm after leaving Glasgow Academy.

Angus, 25, works in a customer-focused role in internal sales. Sandy, 21, is a Heidelberg Speedmaster operator, and has one year of his apprenticeship to go.

Mr Watson, who was 65 in March, spent his last day with John Watson & Company when he handed the firm over to its new owner last Tuesday.

Asked whether he had spent time wondering whether selling the firm was the right thing to do, Mr Watson, whose great-great-grandfather founded the business, replied: "It is absolutely the right thing. I didn't wonder at all. My other two directors were 100% behind the deal.

"It was right in every way, and the management team were very keen it would go this way as well. They saw global opportunities."

Asked whether, as the fifth generation to own the business, he had considered waiting until his sons were older and passing ownership of the firm over to them, Mr Watson replied: "No. I think the world is changing. The world is global now. I think the world is going global. You have got these people like (online retailer) Amazon coming to town.

"We are going global. I think you have to partner up, move up to the next level, become a global player yourself."

While highlighting John Watson & Company's success in supplying drinks producers in Russia, Denmark and France, and the Irish whiskey sector, Mr Watson added: "It would be asking too much for us to take the business global. By getting this opportunity, we have now become a global player."

Asked if there had been a thought when Angus joined the firm that he might take over the business, providing a family succession route as opposed to a sale to a third party, Mr Watson replied: "There was a thought he might. I think he has got far greater opportunities now in the global dimension. This is taking it on to a different level."

He cited the huge technological change he has seen in his 48 years with the firm, which can trace its roots back to 1824.

Mr Watson added: "To have lived through that transformational time, I think, is immense, and come out the other end of it because so many of my pals have chucked it."

He has been a consistently profitable survivor in a sector which has faced tough times.

Mr Watson said: "The printing industry has been a graveyard for banks over the last 20 years."

He chose to specialise in labels for the drinks sector, principally Scotch whisky, having done large amounts of printing work for US computer giants such as Compaq and Motorola in the 1980s and big oil industry players in the 1970s.

Mr Watson has two other sons who are not with the printing firm, 19-year-old Fergus, and Finlay, who is 16.

He said that he planned to spend his retirement playing more golf, both locally and in Portugal.

Mr Watson said: "I am proud of what the team has achieved. I was the conductor of the orchestra. Great fun, lots of stress and happy to move on and enjoy my retirement. Game over."