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

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.

Training to support growth ambitions

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.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, said: “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.”

Gerry McBride, Food and Drink sector manager at Skills Development Scotland (SDS), added:

“The Academy provides an exciting and new opportunity for businesses to build their capability and provide the building blocks to assist in recovery from Covid-19 and the impact of Brexit.

“SDS will work closely with the participating employers to address any skills gaps, giving them access to the right blend of upskilling and reskilling opportunities, and highlighting the benefits of apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes.”

Open to all food and drink businesses

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.

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.”

Further information

To find out more about The Academy and how to apply for any of the programmes, please visit: foodanddrink.scot/the-academy/

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