Leading retail academy opens for entries

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland

SOCIAL Investment Scotland’s (SIS) Retail Academy, now in its fourth year, is open to applications from social enterprises looking to learn how to scale up their offering and increase the availability of their sustainable and ethical product.

Developed by SIS, in partnership ASDA and supported by the Scottish Government, the SIS Retail Academy offers a select group of social enterprises an intensive programme of support and advice to help them launch their products to a wider market of socially-conscious consumers.

Interested parties have until 13 March to submit their interest with successful applicants invited to take part in the three day Academy which runs from 20 to 22 May in Falkirk.

The Academy has 20 spaces available for successful social enterprises and participants can expect an intensive three days where they will strengthen their understanding of retail and corporate markets and refine their commercial and marketing skills.

All participants have the opportunity to meet with national retail experts and corporate buyers from stores and retailers including Asda and Dobbies who will provide expert feedback with the potential to develop a future buyer-supplier relationship.  

There have been several success stories since the inaugural Academy took place in 2016. Most recently, The Blankfaces, the UK’s first fashion label aimed at ending homelessness, took part in the Academy in 2019 and is now stocked in Edinburgh Castle. Similarly, Brewgooder, a craft beer on a mission to bring clean water to 1 million people, has become an established brand since they secured national listings with Asda. Both enterprises have significantly increased the scale and size of their operations, allowing them to create deeper social impacts.

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be bringing back our successful Retail Academy for the fourth year. While the course has helped several enterprises establish their brands – others have benefitted from realising what it takes to get their enterprise to this stage and we’ve provided them with the knowledge and tools to work towards this. 

“The Academy is an invaluable opportunity for social enterprises regardless of where they are in their journey – however we do ask that enterprises have the drive and ambition to scale up their offering and to deliver greater impact.

“This is a rare opportunity for social enterprises to receive insight and time with industry leaders in what is a highly competitive sector, so as in previous years, I anticipate a great deal of interest from enterprises. I would urge any interested social enterprises to get in touch for further information on how they can get involved.”Gerard McKenzie-Govan, Founder, The Blankfaces added: “The Retail Academy was an awesome opportunity. From all the speakers and the retailer visit to the pitching, the business, expertise and connections we got out of it was great.”

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