The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has turned its focus onto rallying its membership to make the wholesale industry an attractive one to work in, according to its chief executive Colin Smith.
Speaking at the SWA Annual Conference in Crieff, Scotland, Smith explained that training, business building, and lobbying and legislation, will be at the forefront of the trade organisation’s revitalisation.
“Wholesalers deliver £2.9bn to Scotland’s economy and while we’re a huge industry, wholesale outlets have halved in the past 15 years,” he said. “That’s why we need input from our members, both wholesalers and suppliers, to ensure that our trade association remains vibrant and relevant. A stronger association gives us a stronger, louder voice and a much bigger opportunity for growth and change.”
He added that the creation of a training academy will enhance skills within the wholesale sector, raise standards and promote wholesale as a viable career path. “This is about creating a highly trained wholesale and distribution workforce in Scotland, where our staff aren’t just box-shifters but skilled people who will be the future leaders of our industry.”
Elsewhere at the conference, CJ Lang chief executive Colin McLean was bullish about the company’s future prospects. “Spar Scotland was a sleeping giant that is now back. The retail market remains challenging but we have a great wholesale offering and we’re now realising the true potential of what CJ Lang can offer.”
Ross Mackay, the founder of vegan food company Daring Foods was also in attendance to explain to the Scottish wholesalers that they need to jump onto the trend of plant-based foods. “We require our wholesale partners to back the change of investment in plant-based foods. This is not a trend, this is what is next.”
Managing director of Bestway Wholesale, Dawood Pervez, also spoke about his company’s relationship with the country: “Our catering and on-trade knowledge all comes from Scotland, and that’s what we’re looking to spread. But the market is complicated as each customer seeks a different experience.”
Meanwhile, The Scottish Tourism Alliance is hoping to make Scotland a country a global food tourism destination with the help of wholesalers, according to its chief executive Marc Crothall. “We need quality produce more widely available across the board. Wholesalers need to review their local offering and work with us to make it happen. Put the spotlight on your current local offering – tell the story to your customers.”