Nearly 30 wholesalers have joined the Scottish Wholesale Association in recent months.
The Association reported that many of the wholesalers chose to sign up to the SWA as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis as they sought assistance with grant applications and advice on how to navigate new regulations.
One of the new members is Ayrshire-based Braehead Foods, supplier to chefs across the UK and Europe. Managing director Craig Stevenson said: “Everything changed last March and as our customers in the hospitality industry suffered, so did we.
“While we’re one of Scotland’s largest independent food wholesalers that doesn’t mean we know everything – we were having to work things out for ourselves like everyone else – so joining the SWA has really helped the business.
“Having someone at the end of the phone, and knowing that everything you discuss is confidential, has been invaluable, particularly when we’ve been applying for funding and grant aid.”
Stevenson also described the SWA as a “terrific sounding board” and said that it provided the opportunity to “be part of something and share information with competitors”. He said: “If recent months have taught us anything it’s that we must help each other where we can, even our competitors.
“As a member of the SWA, I’ve spoken to people in the industry I’ve not been in contact with for years and others I wouldn’t normally engage with – that alone is worth the membership fee.”
Networking, said SWA chief executive Colin Smith, has always been a key benefit for members. However, he added: “While we are unable to progress with our key networking events – including our annual Scottish Wholesale Achievers awards – we are always at the end of the phone to assist members and help them make contact with suppliers, and vice versa.
“Our work in helping to secure the Scottish £5 million Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund towards the end of last year to help qualifying wholesalers affected by coronavirus restrictions is a prime example of how our focus has evolved since the first lockdown last March.
“We saw very early on that the pandemic was going to have a massive impact on our sector and, in some instances, members lost up to 95% of their foodservice income due to various licensed and hospitality COVID lockdowns.”
Gillian Dow, director of Jon Dow Distribution in Forfar, said that the SWA’s assistance to secure Scottish Government Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) funding and “for helping the industry continue to navigate through what has been the most difficult year for everyone” was invaluable. SWA members received PERF grants totalling £1.9 million.
Smith said: “We continue to fight for our sector and challenge the Scottish Government for ongoing support as national lockdown and school closures further impact our members, and work with the sector and others to explore opportunities to help rebuild the wholesale industry.”
Tel: Scottish Wholesale Association 0131-556 8753
Published Date: January 20, 2021