A Scottish wholesale food and drink resilience fund has been established by the Scottish Government to help qualifying wholesalers affected by coronavirus restrictions cover fixed costs for a six-month period from October 2020.
This sector-specific grant 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 various licensed and hospitality Covid-19 lockdowns.
The fund will be targeted at 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.
Colin Smith, chief executive of the SWA, said: “The Scottish Wholesale Association is delighted that food and drink wholesalers, who are the ‘wheels to Scotland’s food and drink industry’, have been given this vital lifeline. This support package will help secure many family businesses and SMEs across the length and breadth of the country – some having lost up to 95% of their income.
“While the sector still faces significant challenges, as many of our hospitality and tourism customers remain closed or restricted, 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.”
He added: “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 businesses – potentially giving security of employment to over 6,000 directly employed staff, and hope for public and private sector customers who rely on Scotland’s supply chain.”
Smith continued: “We appreciate, however, that £5m 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, SWA will be working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure our members get the financial and other business support they need.”