ORCADIAN jeweller Sheila Fleet has stepped up her campaign for the development of a “Made in Scotland” app that she claims could generate thousands of pounds of additional sales and hundreds of jobs across Scotland.
Fleet – who received an OBE for services to industry earlier this year – is calling for the technology to be introduced ahead of the deluge of visitors expected next year on the back of events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup.
It would work by directing tourists to the smaller shops of artisans making high-quality crafts throughout the country. Fleet claims there is unmet demand for such goods, as tourists do not always know where to find authentic made-in-Scotland products.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland, she acknowledged that only 5 per cent of all tourism-related revenue is generated from retailing.
However, she believes that figure could rise significantly if consumers had better access to more than the mass-market products readily available.
“Because of the rush to globalisation, we have forgotten that people want to buy things made in the place that they are visiting,” Fleet said.
Speaking after the conference’s morning session, IoD Scotland executive director David Watt said he would be supporting the push for a Made in Scotland app. “It is a very, very good idea and something we should be working on now,” he said.
Fleet has previously raised the idea with tourism authorities. In response to a letter of congratulations on her OBE, she wrote back to VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay earlier this year to ask if the group would look into developing the technology.
She has also discussed the idea with Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, when he recently visited Orkney.
VisitScotland says app development does not fall within its remit. However, the organisation would be happy to host the completed product on its website, and market it through the VisitScotland network.
Fleet said such an arrangement would be “a brilliant way to advertise all of Scotland’s products in a compact way” to those who don’t know where to find genuine made-in-Scotland merchandise. However, an organisation needs to be found to take control of the project, as the small business owners who would benefit are already fully occupied with running their own operations.
Fleet now employs 55 people at the workshop and showroom built alongside her home in Tankerness. Bolstered by the success of the company’s website, it regularly gets visitors from around the world, even though “we are way out in the wild”.
She believes the Made in Scotland app would help other small craftsmen emulate those accomplishments.
“I love what I do, and I would like to see success for other small businesses,” Fleet said.
• IoD members were surveyed on leadership attitudes within their organisations, with half of respondents revealing fears that the young talent within their organisation are not confident about their leadership capabilities, whilst 40 per cent believed that the next generation of leaders are not motivated to lead.