Scotland Food & Drink Partnership launches The Academy to drive sector growth

Lucy Husband, Market Development and Business Engagement Director at Scotland Food & Drink

THE Scotland Food & Drink Partnership has launched a new and unique training initiative to help businesses targeting growth, after the industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 and Brexit.

Launching on Burns Night, The Academy, which is the first major investment from Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s £5m Recovery Plan and is supported by The Scottish Government, will run for two and a half years, and aims to support over 200 Scottish businesses. The creation of a unique supplier development programme has been high on the agenda for the Partnership since launching its Home Advantage strategy in 2018 and is also integral to its Ambition 2030 plan.

Open to food and drink businesses of all sizes and disciplines, The Academy, is a series of three programmes being rolled out to support businesses sell themselves, build their brands, thrive, and compete and is being delivered by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership and food and drink consultants and training experts Levercliff Associates.

The training programmes include Seeding Growth, Accelerating Growth and Commercial Excellence and each have been designed to support companies at various stages of their growth ambitions. Seeding Growth, which starts in May 2021, is aimed at companies whose primary focus is on maximising their local markets and beginning to move to broader Scottish and UK markets.

Accelerating Growth is aimed at established businesses targeting advancement in the UK market and will start in the summer. The final course, Commercial Excellence, is an advanced programme in building excellence in sales and negotiation for established highly ambitious businesses and sales leaders.

Lucy Husband, Market Development and Business Engagement Director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Food and Drink businesses in Scotland have faced an extraordinarily difficult year and many have had to put their growth ambitions on hold to deal with the everyday challenges to continue trading.

“But while we don’t know how long we’ll be facing the existing challenges of Covid-19 restrictions and Brexit; food and drink businesses need to focus on growth if the sector is going to successfully recover.

“The significant investment into The Academy means that we will be able to support over 200 businesses over the next two and half years, providing them with the practical tools for growth and success. It also aims to bring a renewed sense of positivity for businesses when it comes to growing their brand and will deliver real change that’s rooted in the here and now.”

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, added: “The Academy is one of the most significant pieces of work to come out of the Food & Drink Recovery Plan launched late last year. It will help to build a sustainable and resilient supply chain ready to trade in UK and International markets. Scotland is home to much of the world’s greatest produce and we must do all we can to protect and promote it.

“I know that the last year has been particularly difficult with Brexit and COVID each taking their toll on many businesses. It might feel difficult to invest time and resource right now but the Academy will provide the tools to future fit their businesses and tackle the challenges that lie ahead. I would encourage businesses to get in touch with Scotland Food & Drink and get involved in the Academy and continue to make the industry one of the true success stories of Scotland’s economy.”

The Academy is open to all food and drink businesses in Scotland, members of Scotland Food & Drink as well as members of Scotland Food & Drink Partnership will receive a special discount.

Elaine Jamieson, Head of Food and Drink at Highlands and Islands Enterprise which is a partner in the programme delivery, said: “Food and drink is a crucial sector for our region and one that supports many vital rural jobs. It has also been severely impacted by the pandemic and is vulnerable to Brexit impacts. Businesses in the sector will be at different stages in their growth plans and in need of support to help turn those plans into profits.

“That’s what The Academy is all about. It will be market focused and commercially orientated, with programme options tailored to different growth stages. It will help business leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their growth and thrive in UK markets.  We very much look forward to working with our partners and food and drink clients to support the sector in its recovery and growth.”

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