VETERAN entrepreneur John Watson has highlighted the importance of successful business owners giving something back to the country they built their fortunes in.

Mr Watson has devoted much of his time to philanthropic work since selling his Glasgow printing business to Multi-Color Corporation of the US in a multi-million-pound deal in 2014.

The businessman has supported between 30 and 40 charitable projects in the last five years He is heavily involved in Josh Littlejohn’s Social Bite social enterprise, has been on the Scottish board of the Marie Curie charity for 15 years, and supports a variety of medical and sporting charities through his Watson Foundation.

Speaking before giving a lecture to an Entrepreneurial Scotland event at The Glasgow Academy last night, held at the Watson Auditorium he helped fund, Mr Watson cited the example of Andrew Carnegie, the famous Scottish philanthropist who gave $350 million to good causes after making his fortune as an industrialist in the US in the 19th century.

Mr Watson added: “I’m no Andrew Carnegie but he was light years ahead of his time. Here was someone who lived through the austere Victorian and Edwardian era yet who understood the need to help others. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest Scotsmen who ever lived.”

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Mr Watson said entrepreneurs fortunate enough to have made a lot of money from the sale of their businesses “almost have a social duty to give something back to the country they have been successful in”.

The former entrepreneur of the year recalls being puzzled when asked whether he was happy with how much he gained from the sale of John Watson & Co.

“There are no pockets in a shroud,” he said. “It (philanthropic work) gives me a good feeling. Rather than giving gazillions (sic) to me sons, it is good to know there are others that I have been able to help while I have been here.”

John Watson & Co specialised in printing labels for the Scotch whisky industry, printing as many as 20 million labels a week during Mr Watson’s tenure.

He said his decision to focus on whisky had helped him thrive while others in the traditional printing industry were faced with structural decline.

Mr Watson’s lecture was titled: “An Evening with… John Watson OBE. Passion, Printing & Perfection: The ideal blend for entrepreneurial success.”