A £5 million Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund has been established by the Scottish Government to help wholesalers affected by Coronavirus restrictions.
This sector-specific aid follows months of lobbying by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) and will provide a lifeline to wholesalers which have, in some instances, lost up to 95% of their foodservice income due to lockdowns.
The fund is targeted at food and drink wholesalers that sell to hospitality, on-trade or public sector clients who have seen sales fall by 20% or more since March. It is intended to cover the shortfall in revenue and fixed operating costs such as business rates, rent, loan repayments, utilities and insurance, as well as specific costs such as the loss of stock.
SWA chief executive Colin Smith said: “The Scottish Wholesale Association and our members are thankful and relieved that the Scottish Government has recognised the hardship felt by wholesale businesses as a result of Coronavirus.
“The Scottish Government has done more than any other UK government by recognising the key role that food and drink wholesalers play in the supply chain and in delivering this wholesale sector-specific fund.
“While the sector still faces significant challenges, including Brexit, this funding will make a huge difference to the survival of many SWA members, protecting food supplies into our 5,000 local convenience stores but especially into our hospitals, care homes, prisons and schools, and potentially giving security of employment to over 6,000 directly employed staff.”
Smith continued: “We appreciate, however, that £5 million won’t necessarily give the full support required by everyone, and given the complexities of the food and drink wholesale sector and the different types of wholesale businesses, the SWA will be working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure our members get the financial and other business support they need.”
Commenting on the new funding, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “2020 has been an extremely difficult year across the entirety of the tourism and hospitality sector. But it’s not just businesses who have been forced to close that are suffering – there is often a complicated supply chain that suffers too.
“We recognise that many food and drink wholesalers have lost huge amounts of business almost overnight, in addition to suffering stock loss and other costs as a result of their customers closing. This is affecting the long-term viability of these previously profitable businesses, so we’ve worked closely with the Scottish Wholesale Association to target this funding specifically at those that need it most and help them get through a tough winter.
“Many of the wholesalers serving the hospitality sector that have been particularly badly hit are the same wholesalers we rely on getting food to rural and remote areas as well as ensuring continuity of public sector food provision. It is paramount these businesses are able to continue operating and ready to support the hospitality sector as it recovers.”
Applications for funding must be submitted by 23:59 on 12 December via the Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund.
Applicants must be able to show that they have been trading at a loss between April to September 2020, in addition to trading positively prior to this. They will have to provide evidence of projected gross revenues as well as fixed and additional costs for trading between October 2020 and March 2021.
A calculation will then be made to predict the shortfall in revenue required to cover these fixed costs, and grants will cover up to 100% of the predicted shortfall. If the total value of eligible applications exceeds £5 million, grants will be scaled appropriately to successful applicants.
Tel: Scottish Wholesale Association 0131-556 8753
Published Date: December 5, 2020