The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has called on the government for more funding by extending business rates relief to the wholesale sector, cutting VAT and extending the furlough scheme to secure jobs under threat within the sector.
The trade body said that despite many food and drink wholesalers losing as much as 90% of their business overnight when the coronavirus lockdown was introduced, they received no rates relief.
SWA chief executive Colin Smith said: “While we’ve managed to help some of our members secure lifeline grant support from the Scottish government’s Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) scheme, or their local council, the majority of food and drink wholesalers have received nothing.
“The hospitality, tourism and leisure industry accounted for over 40% of the food and drink wholesale market in Scotland before lockdown so it’s a critical sector for our members. It’s going to take a while for the industry to recover and many are still facing extreme challenges trying to keep their businesses afloat and, crucially, food and drink supplies moving.”
Smith said that while the reopening of outlets was welcome, it would not be enough to sustain the wholesale channel, and action was needed to support members on “a very challenging and difficult road to recovery”.
He added: “Our membership is made up of small, local family businesses through to large national and international-based businesses, but each one has been an unsung hero during this pandemic in making sure that Scotland’s food and drink supply chain remained robust and reliable.
“We hope the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, takes action immediately given the key role wholesalers play within their local communities, the tourism and hospitality supply chain and the wider Scottish economy.”
The pressure from the SWA follows a renewed call from the FWD at the end of June, asking the government to support wholesalers impacted by the coronavirus crisis with funding.