{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"business","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/resilient-travel-agents-fight-back-against-airbnb-1-4786405","id":"1.4786405","articleHeadline": "Resilient travel agents fight back against Airbnb","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534634470000 ,"articleLead": "

Travel agents are battling back against the trend to “self organise” holidays, a report has found, with insolvencies in the industry dropping by nearly a third since 2013.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786404.1534627313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Travel agents want to fight back against the threat of consumers buying DIY holidays. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

A study from accountancy firm Moore Stephens found that travel companies were focusing on niche and specialised holidays to stem the economic problems caused by the likes of Airbnb, which helps people book their own holidays online without the need for professional assistance.

The number of travel agency and tour operators going insolvent has fallen by 30 per cent in the past five years from 47 to 33 per annum, the report found. It said that the internet revolution of the past two decades has thinned out the less financially stable businesses, leaving those whose business models are better insulated against the threat of consumers buying DIY holidays.

Chris Marsden, restructuring and insolvency partner at Moore Stephens, said: “Travel agencies are performing better than they have been in recent years. New technology platforms and the evolving expectations of travellers have revolutionised the way the sector works.

“More travellers, especially from the younger generation, increasingly want an ‘experience’ rather than just a holiday – that gives travel agents and tour operators a real opportunity.

He added: “It is harder to piece together those more complex, once-in-a-lifetime holidays from the internet, and that is where travel agents can still compete really well.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786404.1534627313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786404.1534627313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Travel agents want to fight back against the threat of consumers buying DIY holidays. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Travel agents want to fight back against the threat of consumers buying DIY holidays. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786404.1534627313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/bill-jamieson-rewritten-history-widens-the-credibility-gap-1-4786360","id":"1.4786360","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: Rewritten history widens the credibility gap","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534632456000 ,"articleLead": "

Latest Scottish Government figures on economic performance should give grounds for cheer. Growth of Gross Domestic Product in the first three months of the year is now estimated by Scotland’s chief statistician at 0.4 per cent, a sharp upward revision from the first estimate of 0.2 per cent published on 28 June.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786358.1534613670!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Building sector growth was cut from 34 per cent to 6 per cent. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The improvement is ascribed to “newly updated data and methodological improvements”.

On an annual basis, Scotland’s growth rate is now just above the UK’s, at 1.3 per cent, compared with 1.2 per cent. This was mainly driven by an increase in output across the services and production sectors.

Cheerful news, indeed. But there are other revisions, and these are not so cheerful. Previous figures for the construction sector have been revised sharply downwards and the industry continues to experience falls in output, with GDP also remaining below historical growth trends.

Indeed, the revisions on construction are so substantial as to leave us unsure what to make of official numbers. Previous assertions of construction sector output growth of 18 per cent in 2015 have been chopped to six per cent, with knock-on impacts in other years. For example, back in 2016 the estimated growth in the construction sector over 2014 and 2015 was 34 per cent. It is now reckoned at just six per cent.

These are massive downgrades that cannot be brushed aside as lumpy contract completions or seasonal adjustments. How can the figures be so variable? And what credence can we place on the latest estimates from Scottish Government numbers? It all seems so capricious. To adapt the mischievous quip of Groucho Marx, “Those are my figures, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

The result of these revisions is that Scotland’s growth numbers overall for both 2015 and 2014 have been revised down by 1.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively. And our growth rate since 2010 remains poor, averaging around one per cent a year – actually slightly worse than before.

It is not the first time questions have been raised about the accuracy of construction sector numbers. Both the Fraser of Allander Institute, and the independent economist, Professor John McLaren, cast a sceptical spotlight when these figures were first unveiled – and continued to query them when they were repeated.

No public response from the Scottish Government was forthcoming. Now come truly massive revisions. How can we absorb the slashing of sector estimates for 2014 and 2015 from growth of 34 per cent to just six per cent without question? Once again, our economic history is being re-written, making reliable analysis of performance all the more uncertain and erratic.

“Clearly, such an error is worrying,” writes McLaren. “The government statisticians, have, unsurprisingly, changed their methodology for estimating construction output. However, it remains a concern that the alarm bells set off by these figures did not result in quicker action being taken over the two years since such vastly inflated estimates were originally made… Such large and late revisions make it difficult to seriously analyse Scottish economic performance.”

Quite.

Elsewhere, McLaren points out that revisions “failed to alter the dismal growth profile of the hospitality-driven accommodation and food services sector which still shows almost no growth since 1998”, or what he calls “the disappeared decade” (2003 to 2013) in the information and communications sector.

Other revisions are also question-begging. For example, there is now said to be less of a decline in financial services since its pre-crisis peak in 2009, down by six per cent on latest estimates instead of 12 per cent previously. By contrast, business services is now reckoned to have risen by just 3.4 per cent since 2014, compared with the previous estimate of 6.6 per cent.

On this form, it is surely tempting for the MSPs on Holyrood’s economy committee to organise a whip round for a new set of darts – or a bigger dart board.

However, there are other, and more recent, encouraging signs. The Index of Manufactured Exports rose by 3.6 per cent in the first quarter, largely driven by increases in exports of food and drink and engineering products. And on a rolling annual basis, comparing the most recent four quarters with the previous four quarters, the volume of manufactured exports is up by 8.7 per cent.

North Sea related GDP grew by over 14 per cent over the past year, with the result that Scottish growth, including offshore activity, grew by more than four per cent over the past four quarters. And North Sea oil related tax revenues have also recovered, from being next to nil in financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17 to being back over £1.3 billion in 2017-18.

And for those who just can’t get enough numbers, the value of Scotland’s onshore GDP is now reckoned at £156.5 billion or £28,797 per person, in current prices. Taking in our geographical share of UK extra-regio (offshore and overseas) economic activity, Scottish GDP in 2017-18 is estimated at £170.4bn in total, or £31,367 per person.

As for employment, the good news keeps on coming. Scotland’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.2 per cent in the three months between April and June, while the number of Scots aged 16 to 64 in employment rose by 17,000, to a working-age rate of 75.2 per cent.

Economic inactivity among those below retirement age – Scots aged under 65 who are not seeking work, often because they are studying or caring for family – fell by 17,000, to 21.5 per cent.

The numbers only deepen the mystery of why, with historically high employment and unfilled vacancies also remaining high, we have not seen a much sharper rise in average earnings.

That may well come. But for the moment we are experiencing a stronger growth rate than widely predicted and historically robust employment data. Amid all the concerns and apprehensions over Brexit, it is an achievement to be welcomed.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bill Jamieson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786358.1534613670!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786358.1534613670!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Building sector growth was cut from 34 per cent to 6 per cent. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Building sector growth was cut from 34 per cent to 6 per cent. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786358.1534613670!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/james-walker-don-t-be-an-easy-target-for-penny-pinchers-1-4786356","id":"1.4786356","articleHeadline": "James Walker: Don’t be an easy target for penny-pinchers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534632321000 ,"articleLead": "

Small is beautiful they say – and big businesses certainly think so.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786354.1534613657!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Small change soon adds up"} ,"articleBody": "

A certain fast food company raises somewhere in the region of £50 million for its charities each year just through the pennies dropped in to the collection boxes beside its tills. The pennies really do add up.

In similar ways, businesses often increase your bills by random sums. Take a look at your regular payments for council tax, water or the TV licence to name but a few. The bills have all gone up, but when you compare the monthly payments to last year’s, it doesn’t seem like much, does it?

Something about the way our minds work means we don’t register smaller sums as things to get worked up about unless we’re really canny – or struggling financially. Which is why increasingly, big businesses are charging us small amounts for services that were once free. I’ve seen £7.50 charged for picking up goods in-store. Some businesses are billing people up to £3 for each paper bill they send out. And don’t get me started on airline charges for changes to bookings.

Broadband businesses seem to be particularly big on charges for some services. A big provider has just started charging £7.50 a month for former customers to keep their email addresses. And it’s not just little charges either. I’ve seen people charged up to £200 to leave their broadband contracts early – in some cases if they’re moving to areas where their provider can’t offer the service.

I was thinking about the fabulously cheesy 80s classic Superman III this week as I helped sort out a range of broadband-related complaints. There’s a scene in that movie where Richard Pryor starts a new job and creams off the half cents from every employee’s wage packet. He makes $85,789.90 in one week. These charges add up. So, here’s how you can save some cash.

◆ Read your post. If a business is going to start charging you it has to let you know. But you might only get a few months’ notice. So, 
don’t ignore the post – even 
if it looks like a marketing letter.

◆ Check your bills. You might have missed a notification about a charge, so go through your bills. This is trickier these days as often they’re online and you might have forgotten the passwords. Grit your teeth, gain access and check for those stealth charges. These smaller sums might not jump out at you straight away, so check through the past three months item by item to see what comes up.

◆ If you’ve been charged for some time and you don’t feel you’ve been notified, make a complaint and ask for the cash back. Ask for proof of how they notified you.

◆ Share the news. Loads of your friends and family won’t be aware of these charges. No-one I spoke to knew about the charges for paper bills, despite many companies applying them automatically.

◆ If you have been told about a charge and you don’t think it’s fair, the firm should allow you to go to another provider without hitting you with an exit fee. Put your complaint in writing through Resolver for free and ask them to address it in writing.

I’m on a mission to tackle these rip-off stealth charges, so let me know your examples at yourstories@resolver.co.uk.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "James Walker"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786354.1534613657!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786354.1534613657!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Small change soon adds up","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Small change soon adds up","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786354.1534613657!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/media-leisure/wood-group-poised-for-boost-from-oil-and-gas-recovery-1-4786353","id":"1.4786353","articleHeadline": "Wood Group poised for boost from oil and gas recovery","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534631979000 ,"articleLead": "

Aberdeen-headquartered energy services group Wood is expected to report continued signs of recovery in its core oil and gas market when it reports interim results on Tuesday.

" ,"articleBody": "

The group is forecast to deliver first-half revenues of $5.1 billion (£4bn) to $5.2bn and underlying earnings of between $250 million to $260m. It will also provide an update on progress with the $50m cost synergies it expects to achieve this year from the integration of the Amec Foster Wheeler (AFW) business.

It comes after an upbeat first-quarter trading update in May, when Wood said it was confident of returning to growth during 2018 as a whole, helped by increased investment by customers on capital projects.

Chief executive Robin Watson said at the time: “The first quarter has demonstrated the significant benefits of the operational platform we have created. Our integration programme is ahead of schedule and we are seeing good momentum in trading, cost and revenue synergy delivery.”

And he said the firm expects to deliver revenue and earnings growth as well as a benefit from cost synergies related to its merger with Amec of more than $50m this year, with Wood also forecasting that about 60 per cent of its annual earnings will fall in the second half of 2018.

The group swung to a pre-tax loss of $30m in 2017, compared to a profit of $34.4m 12 months previously, due in part to costs related to its AFW acquisition, which completed in October.

Wood said last week that it is disposing of its 50 per cent interest in the Voreas wind farm joint venture in Italy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Emma Newlands"} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/investors-show-an-interest-in-persimmon-results-1-4786351","id":"1.4786351","articleHeadline": "Investors show an interest in Persimmon results","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534631957000 ,"articleLead": "

Persimmon will unveil results for the first half of the year this week, with investors keen to hear management’s view on whether increased interest rates are affecting sales.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786348.1534613636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In its last update, Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales, up 3.6 per cent on a year earlier."} ,"articleBody": "

The housebuilder will say revenue rose 5 per cent to £1.84 billion in the six months to 30 June. But City analysts believe the Bank of England’s recent decision to raise interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent could start to hit the housing market.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Investors will be waiting to see if the monetary policy committee’s decision to raise interest rates has impacted Persimmon’s selling power.”

In its last trading update, Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales, up 3.6 per cent on a year earlier.

The company continues to be dogged by controversy over excessive pay for top bosses, with chief executive Jeff Fairburn earning a salary of £47 million.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ravender Sembhy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786348.1534613636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786348.1534613636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "In its last update, Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales, up 3.6 per cent on a year earlier.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In its last update, Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales, up 3.6 per cent on a year earlier.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786348.1534613636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/ppi-clock-is-ticking-but-making-a-claim-can-be-free-and-easy-1-4786355","id":"1.4786355","articleHeadline": "PPI clock is ticking, but making a claim can be free and easy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534631075000 ,"articleLead": "

August marks the one-year countdown to the deadline for making a PPI claim – and with millions of policies having been taken out, the clock is ticking if you want to make a complaint.

" ,"articleBody": "

The deadline for PPI complaints is 29 August, 2019. As many as 64 million PPI policies have been sold in the UK, mostly in the 20 years after 1990 – but some stretching as far back as the 1970s.

Some £31.5 billion has been paid back between January 2011 and May 2018 to customers who complained about the way they were sold PPI. If you had a PPI policy you weren’t happy about you can complain for free. Here’s what you need to know.

What is PPI?

PPI or payment protection insurance was designed to cover repayments if you found you were unable to make them yourself for particular reasons – perhaps due to being made redundant, having an accident or being ill.

It was tacked on to products such as loans, credit cards, store cards, mortgages, and other types of credit, such as car finance and hire purchase agreements.

Why did PPI become controversial?

PPI was found to have often been mis-sold, to people who didn’t need it because it was unsuitable, felt under pressure to sign up, or in some cases didn’t even realise they had a PPI policy because it was simply added without them asking.

Are there other circumstances in which I could make a PPI claim?

Yes, there’s a new reason you can complain, and it’s if the bank or other provider earned a high level of commission from the sale of PPI but you weren’t told when you bought it. Providers were often paid commission by the insurer, as a reward for the sale of PPI. The money for this commission would come out of the payments you made for the policy. A high level of commission typically means it was more than half of what you paid for your PPI policy.

These rules mean it’s also possible to complain even if you’ve had a previous complaint about the mis-selling of PPI rejected. You don’t need to know or explain how much commission was paid for your PPI policy. If you don’t know the details, you can still complain.

How can I check if I had PPI?

If the policy was taken out a very long time ago, or you aren’t quite sure, you may need to do a bit of detective work, but there is help out there with this. Try to dig out any old paperwork you may have which could help, but if you haven’t got this you can still ask the firm. The Financial Conduct Authority has a page on its website that helps people track down the details of firms (fca.org.uk/ppi/how-to-complain/search-for-provider).

What free help is available for me to make a complaint?

Consumer help websites MoneySavingExpert.com and Resolver.co.uk have free tools which can help take the hassle out of complaining. Citizens Advice, Which?, the Money Advice Service, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service also have information on their websites.

What if I’m still not happy after making a complaint?

If you have complained to the firm and you’re not happy, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which resolves disputes between consumers and financial firms.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/management/the-big-interview-aidan-o-carroll-the-new-chair-of-iod-scotland-1-4786359","id":"1.4786359","articleHeadline": "The Big Interview: Aidan O’Carroll, the new chair of IoD Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534630523000 ,"articleLead": "

Having only just taken on his new role as chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland, Aidan O’Carroll will later this year take the podium at the organisation’s annual conference in Gleneagles. He will be joined by high-profile figures from Scottish business, including Debbie Crosbie, group chief operating officer and executive director of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, Blackcircles.com founder Mike Welch, The Data Lab chief executive Gillian Docherty and Carolyn Jameson, chief legal officer of Skyscanner.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786357.1534613666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aidan O'Carroll has worked around the globe, including stints in Japan and the US, but has always kept his home in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

It’s an event that O’Carroll is evidently enthusiastic about, as he seeks to create a better environment for businesses and leadership in Scotland to flourish.

A senior partner at EY by day, O’Carroll said when his IoD Scotland post was announced that he was looking forward to the chance to be “part of an organisation that can help bring greater success to Scotland, shape our economic proposition, engage with government to promote growth, and bring together diverse views on the common theme of leadership”.

IoD Scotland has almost 2,000 members, operates from Charlotte Square in Edinburgh and through branches focusing on the Highlands and Islands, Tayside, Fife, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is part of the London-based IoD, which was founded in 1903 and represents about 35,000 members in the UK and abroad, including chief executives of large corporations as well as entrepreneurs and directors of start-ups, charities and public sector bodies.

O’Carroll cites Scotland’s “very proud” history of entrepreneurship. “We’ve lost sight of some of that at times in terms of the lacking of confidence in really scaling up a business, and I think [we have an opportunity] to promote that confidence to make people who are in leadership positions better leaders, which is one of the clear parts of the Royal Charter of IoD. We call it better directors but it’s really better leaders in the equivalent roles across all sectors.

“To my mind that’s also about gaining confidence, really reinvigorating our mojo when it comes to building the future Skyscanners and other great success stories that we’ve had.

“There’s still too few of those businesses that are growing to that scale and staying in Scotland and being led in Scotland. My ambition would be to have far more of those wanting to prosper, live and grow out of a Scottish base.”

Indeed, a survey published in the summer by the Enterprise Research Centre found that when looking at established firms stepping up from turnover in the £1 million to £2m bracket to £3m-plus in three years, Scotland’s rate of 5.3 per cent was the lowest in the UK and compared to an average of 7.2 per cent.

O’Carroll also stressed on news of his appointment – which saw him take over from Susan Deacon, who became chair of the Scottish Police Authority – that no matter how far afield his work has taken him, including stints in Japan and the US, he has always been able to keep his home in Scotland.

When he started working in London, for example, for what turned out to be nearly two decades, he and his family decided they would stay put and he would come home at weekends.

“I always found that something to look forward to as my base and it’s allowed me to stay connected to Scotland, not just to friends, colleagues and businesses – but also to keep a close eye on what’s going on from a government perspective,” he says.

In chairing IoD Scotland, also taking up the Scottish seat on the IoD’s UK Council, he wanted to bring his experience and perspective, and is keen to engage across the board, including with members from the private, public and third sectors to determine “not just what value they get out of being members of the IoD, but very much listening to their issues, their concerns and where they think IoD could and should be playing a role to help them in their business”.

Also on his agenda is having conversations with government, something he believes is “particularly important within the Scottish context” given the Scottish Government’s focus on growing a bigger and better Scotland. And he highlights the need to speed up the origination of policy into actions.

There is certainly no shortage of prospering business activity north of the Border, with leading biopharmaceutical research and development ability and a highly skilled workforce among the many positives pointed out by O’Carroll. It was revealed last week that Edinburgh is to host the 6th World One Health Congress in 2020, with the University of Edinburgh saying it will offer the chance to demonstrate the work of Scotland’s “world-leading” collective of research institutes.

Yet while “born optimist” O’Carroll cites the opportunities offered by the increasingly dominant digital world, he is keen to point out that it could be a missed opportunity for leaders if they fail to embrace it. “Of course there will be threats along the way, but I think it’s a far more positive opportunity, particularly for Scotland, than a threat.”

O’Carroll started his career “a long time ago” at HMRC as an inspector of taxes, subsequently switching allegiance to the private sector and becoming a chartered accountant.

Tax has remained his core focus throughout his career, “but as I grew into different leadership roles both nationally and globally it was much more about building businesses”.

He has spent the lion’s share of his career at EY, including leadership of the accountancy giant’s compliance and reporting for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

Increasing its size significantly was “great fun”, according to O’Carroll, but given his remit spanned 140 countries, how did he manage vastly differing local regimes? “It boils down to what’s going on in each country and recognising that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and so really encouraging local leaders to embrace a new way of doing business, to do it more consistently and as such as we were able to grow our business much more effectively and quickly by operating as a much broader team across-country.”

He last year returned to work in his native Scotland, and is now focused on private and family companies, including work with younger leaders hungry to succeed and learn, and perhaps most crucially, willing to adapt to the changing landscape. “I just love the lateral thinking and the innovation that’s going on today.”

IoD Scotland’s billing of the event at Gleneagles, which takes place at the start of November, takes a positive spin on the “unprecedented change” facing the business world, saying this can be daunting for even veteran leaders. But “can we make a huge positive out of what many people see as a negative,” the organisation asks.

O’Carroll acknowledges the cauldron of conditions facing leaders, from higher wage costs to international trade woes, and the inescapable topic of Brexit. There should be more clarity particularly on the latter subject by the time the conference comes around, “one hopes”, he says.

The UK’s extrication from Europe is “clearly probably both the biggest challenge and the biggest change that the country faces… that need for greater certainty and, I would argue, greater openness and transparency as well, is important and that’s regardless of the political views anyone might have”.

But he adds that “business has to mobilise, has to react quickly and has to look forward with a degree of confidence in order to make the investments that are going to be needed to grow the economy and I think this whole confidence piece is undermined by the uncertainty that we face at the moment”. More positively, however, the Scottish economy has moved from laggard to leaping ahead, estimated to have grown by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of the year, and double the rate across the UK as a whole.“I would like us to make sure that we celebrate some of the great things that are going on in the economy,” says O’Carroll.

All in all his drive for engagement is making sure the IoD stays “fresh and… relevant in today and tomorrow’s world”.

And as for what he would like to achieve during his three-year stint in the chair role, his aim is the IoD being viewed as a top leadership organisation in Scotland with an increased membership across all sectors and although he declines to give a target until he is more settled in the role, is keen to see its female membership grow. He also wants the lobby group to “remain not just the voice of business but be seen as a force for good”, with strong governance, open-ness and transparency also seen as key to what the organisation “does and represents – I think that would be a great legacy to leave to the next chair”.

He adds: “We’ve all got a role to play here in building that bigger Scotland regardless of where you’re sitting, which sector you’re in… I think there’s a common theme here that the IoD can help with.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Emma Newlands"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786357.1534613666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786357.1534613666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aidan O'Carroll has worked around the globe, including stints in Japan and the US, but has always kept his home in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aidan O'Carroll has worked around the globe, including stints in Japan and the US, but has always kept his home in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786357.1534613666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/amanda-ferguson-rely-on-edinburgh-s-powers-of-attraction-1-4786376","id":"1.4786376","articleHeadline": "Amanda Ferguson: Rely on Edinburgh’s powers of attraction","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534630425000 ,"articleLead": "

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) global city rankings were published earlier this summer and Edinburgh remains in the top 50 destinations among more than 400 cities across the world, retaining its number two position in the UK. But along with this great news is bad news – we’ve dropped five places from the year before, from 27th to 32nd.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786375.1534614972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The capital will be hosting the global TEDSummit next year. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

The fall wasn’t a surprise. After a stellar year of results in 2016 – one of our strongest of the past decade – we were conscious of the potential negative impact the uncertainty surrounding Brexit would have on the industry. That, coupled with murmurings of a potential second independence referendum, presented a challenging backdrop. But we love a challenge. The annual economic value of Edinburgh’s business tourism is estimated to be in excess of £300 million per annum, so it’s a market we want to keep and grow.

These factors sparked the ambition to unveil the first ever collaborative business tourism campaign, Make It Edinburgh, made possible by the support of public and private organisations across the city, with funding of £80,000. And with a city to sell to the world, with so much to offer in terms of eclectic spaces, history, culture and thriving centres of excellence, I feel very positive about the future.

Ten months into the campaign, Make it Edinburgh’s effect has been hugely positive, with traffic to the website seeing a 98 per cent increase on page views year on year. Interest established now will lay the foundations for bookings in years to come. This is especially so given that Edinburgh is booming. Almost monthly, we see the city recognised as a top competitor. We were recently recognised as the UK’s fastest growing tech hub in 2017 and the UK’s top hotel investment hotspot outside London.

We continue to see huge names bring their business to Edinburgh. Richard Branson has chosen the capital for the first Virgin Hotel outside of the US. A hub for inward investment, exciting developments across the city include retail and leisure complex Edinburgh St James, complete with a W Hotel, which will transform this district of the city when it opens in 2020. Emirates are set to launch a new air route into Edinburgh from Dubai this autumn, and Hainan Airlines launched a direct flight to Beijing in June.

In the UK, Edinburgh is second only to London as the choice for event planners, and in 2017/18 we saw £75m contributed to the local economy because of meetings confirmed by Convention Edinburgh alone – that’s not including the additional financial impact of meetings managed outwith our organisation, in private venues. We’re in an incredibly strong position, with the business tourism industry proving a significant economic driver for Edinburgh. Just this summer, the city was announced as host of the 2019 global TEDSummit, the internationally recognised event for “spreading ideas to improve the world”, and the 6th World One Health Congress in 2020, which reinforces the city’s position as one of the world’s leading hubs for medical and health expertise. These wins are the result of close partnership, working with organisations such as VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. In addition, the impact of hosting the event – both culturally and economically – will be immense.

Bolstered by these positive signs of investment, Make it Edinburgh shines a spotlight on the many reasons people should choose Edinburgh for their next conference or event, and at the pinnacle is our sector strengths. Focusing on six key sectors that the city is thriving in – Technology, Food and Drink; Renewables; Creativity; Life Sciences; and Education – the 12-month campaign has generated content that demonstrates how Edinburgh has advanced in the business tourism industry, and the value it can bring to meetings and events beyond the four walls of a venue.

Knowledge sharing knows no boundaries and sitting outwith the European Union won’t change Edinburgh’s status as a hub of excellence. Looking at other non-EU countries that are successful, such as Switzerland (sitting 17th in this year’s rankings), we absolutely can’t let geopolitics be a barrier between our areas of expertise and the rest of the world. There really has never been a more important time to Make It Edinburgh.

Amanda Ferguson is head of Business Tourism at Convention Edinburgh

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Amanda Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786375.1534614972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786375.1534614972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The capital will be hosting the global TEDSummit next year. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The capital will be hosting the global TEDSummit next year. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786375.1534614972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/insight-bridgeton-fears-yet-another-poverty-porn-tv-show-1-4786396","id":"1.4786396","articleHeadline": "Insight: Bridgeton fears yet another ‘poverty porn’ TV show","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534627162000 ,"articleLead": "

TV’s history of exploiting hardship tells residents of Bridgeton they have good cause to fear the impact of Bethany Mone’s visit, writes Dani Garavelli.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786393.1534627147!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Docherty by the Bridgeton bandstand. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Outside the Credit Union in Bridgeton, Glasgow, a group of boys stand swigging listlessly from cans of coke. Carved into the ground, close to their be-trainered feet, are the words: “The honest man though e’er sae poor/Is king o men for a’ that.” Though the boys pay it no heed, Burns’ egalitarian line is apt for a community which is trying hard to rise above the stigma of deprivation.

Across the road, the central column of the cast iron bandstand is draped in a union flag and faded flowers in memory of a recently departed Rangers fan. There, Jamie Docherty, 47, is talking about a contemporary, and less egalitarian, exploration of poverty: C4’s Born Famous. The reality TV series will pair the sons and daughters of “self-made” celebrities with teenagers from the less affluent areas their parents grew up in; thus they will gain an insight into the alternative lives they might have had if their parents had not become millionaires.

Docherty has just found out that one of the episodes will feature Bethany Mone – daughter of the Ultimo bra tycoon and Conservative peer Michelle Mone, who was brought up in the city’s East End. “Is [Bethany] going to have to scrabble to find money for the electricity meter?” Docherty, a former plumber’s mate, who is unemployed, is asking. “Is she going to have to walk the six miles to Shettleston and back to sign on because she can’t afford the bus fare?”

Docherty is not the only one irritated by the show. In the past few days social media has been thrumming with indignation. Though C4 is pitching the series as “an exploration of social mobility”, many fear it will be an exercise in voyeurism.

“This is utterly despicable exploitation of a kind, close-knit community which has seen change led by local people,” tweeted Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss. Lesley Ward, manager of Bridgeton Community Learners Campus, expressed her anger after a local charity was asked whether Bethany could be filmed handing out packed lunches to young people during play sessions. And comedian Janey Godley, herself a former East Ender, called the whole concept vulgar. “Michelle Mone is a Tory who voted against giving the poorest people decent living benefits and now wants to do a ‘Bridgeton Kardashian’ to give her daughter some air time,” she wrote.

This isn’t the first time the residents of the East End have had TV cameras foisted on them. Some remember the sense of betrayal they felt when Kay Carmichael, deputy chair of the supplementary benefits commission, went undercover in Lilybank near Tollcross, then made a TV series detailing her experience, back in 1977.

More recently, there was The Scheme, which followed the lives of troubled and often vulnerable residents in Onthank, Kilmarnock. The series won a Bafta, but turned Onthank into a byword for addiction and social disorder. After it finished, the estate became a tourist attraction with visitors coming from all over to look at the street in which drug user Marvin Baird, his girlfriend, Dayna, and his dog Bullet lived. Those who had starred in the series, and become tabloid fodder, struggled to adapt to life out of the spotlight. According to the Sun, Baird was hounded out of his new £350,000 home in North Lanarkshire. Earlier this year, he was jailed for dealing heroin.

East End residents also question the motives of Bethany, whose mother grew up not in Bridgeton, but gentrified Dennistoun. They wonder whether the programme will be anything more than a vehicle to raise the profile of the 18-year-old who recently posted pictures of her £770 YSL shoes on Instagram. Bethany hasn’t helped by describing herself as someone who loves to live in hotel dressing gowns; her mother hasn’t helped by describing Godley as “a moron”.

In a ground floor flat in neighbouring Calton, chair of Calton Area Association, Betty Cosgrove, sits primly behind a desk, a long to-do list in front of her. She has a look of wry amusement that says she has heard it all before. The look is directed at me because I have assured her I am not writing a piece that unfairly stigmatises the area. Cosgrove says many other journalists have told her the same.

“Someone took a photograph of a derelict building in the process of being knocked down and then another bright spark used it to say Calton was worse than Delhi for housing,” she tells me. “After that, I used to get phone calls from China and the US, people wanting to come over to see how, in Scotland, there was a place worse than Delhi. At first, I would take them out and show them the houses, all of which have been modernised.” But the visitors would keep demanding to see “the slums”. In the end, Cosgrove started telling them to make their own way round.

“I think [the media] use deprivation for their own ends – and everyone is fed up because we are doing our best, but you still get programmes like this,” she says.

Almost every journalist will have thought about how they write about poverty at some point in their career. It’s not always easy to strike a balance between exposing the inequalities at the heart of society and commodifying other people’s misery. Often reporters will be criticised for trawling the streets looking for anyone willing to talk; on the other hand, in my experience, third sector organisations sometimes act as gatekeepers to those who experience hardship, which, in itself denies them agency. The challenge is: how do you give vulnerable people a platform to speak without trading on their frailties or exacerbating their trauma?

Not every fly-on-the-wall documentary about poverty is wilfully exploitative. Kay Carmichael believed it was impossible to find out about poverty while sitting behind a desk. It was the controller of BBC Scotland Alistair Hetherington who persuaded her to use her experiences as the core of a documentary series. In his book, The Broken Journey, writer Kenneth Roy details how one tenant, Charlie McCrindle, alleged the BBC had bribed young people with cans of beer during the filming of that series, while city councillor Susan Baird said the programme had “degraded” the people of the estate. But many others believed Carmichael had done a service by exposing the conditions people were living in.

More dubious were a series of documentaries in which high-profile politicians spent a week living off benefits in one council estate or another. The first of these – a World In Action documentary, For The Benefit Of Mr Parris – saw a young Matthew Parris, then a Conservative MP, decamp to Scotswood in Newcastle, where his budget was £26.10 for the week.

Parris had claimed unemployment benefits should be kept low so that people were incentivised to work; now he was to test the theory. He lived frugally, cadged drinks from others, went to a football match, but still 
found himself out of cash before his 
time was up.

Filmed in 1984 – not long after the miners’ strike, when unemployment in Scotswood was 80 per cent – the programme was criticised for trivialising the problems former industrial heartlands were facing. Years later, Parris wrote he had learned that you cannot replicate “the spiritual desolation” of unemployment by trying it out it for a week. “‘Try all winter, try three months, try three years,’ the unemployed people I met told me, often angrily. ‘You descend from the London train, leaving your comfortable flat there and your nice house in Derbyshire, and your well-paid job in parliament, with all those subsidised bars; and you know that at the end of the week you can go back to all these things, and we can’t’.”

The programme was a launchpad for Parris’s career in journalism and TV. It attracted 13 million viewers. The wealthy toff vs working class oik formula was a success; and so it was replicated. In 2003, for example, Michael Portillo spent time pretending to be a single mother in Merseyside. And then Parris reprised his original role by going back to Scotswood to make For The Benefit Of Mr Parris Revisited in 2004.

Another “poverty safari” format which can be relied to pull in the viewers is the fly-on-the-wall documentary, as seen in The Scheme, Skint and Benefits Street. Given the drama lies in the conflict between the main characters, there was a temptation to home in on those who are the most dysfunctional.

C4’s Benefits Street, which aired in 2014 and included a demonstration of how to shoplift, gave the channel its highest ratings for any programme since 2012, but it also prompted hundreds of complaints to the media regulator Ofcom.

Four years earlier, The Scheme was similarly divisive. In a clash that highlighted some of the complexities of the debate, cultural commentator Pat Kane accused producers of turning the chaos of people’s lives into a cartoon strip, while broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove asked why it was OK for him to act up for the cameras and not the people on the estate.

Most of the criticism, however, focused on the negative way the estate was portrayed; a good deal of the programme wasn’t even shot in Onthank, residents said.

Go to Onthank (and neighbouring Knockinlaw) today and the resentment is still palpable. Residents are defensive when approached by reporters. “You’ll just twist everything,” they say.

Though no-one will reveal their name, stories about the impact of the filming do trickle out. I hear about the tourists who drove into Ardgour Place (where Marvin and Dayna lived) and peered in people’s windows.

Tensions developed between those who were filmed and those who weren’t and Marvin became a target for everyone who wanted to prove how hard they were. After the programme ended, he could sometimes be seen signing cigarette packets for a couple of pounds a shot.

There doesn’t seem to be any great physical legacy from Onthank’s 15 minutes of notoriety either. “While it was being shown resources poured in, though they disappeared soon after the cameras,” one man tells me. “That was the upside. The downside was the whole estate got a bad name. Even now, there are people who hear ‘Onthank’ and associate it with chaos and crime.”

Next to a shipping container on Morven Avenue, two women are sitting on a step drinking cups of tea. Both of them insist residents were misled about the kind of programme The Scheme would be. “At the beginning, they said they were going to focus on a woman who had just found out she was going to have a baby and follow her through her pregnancy,” the younger woman says. “They also claimed they were going to follow a couple preparing for their wedding. Positive stories, you know.

“None of that happened. Yet there are people here who go out to work every day – why couldn’t they have filmed them?” The woman, who did not feature in the series, says none of the promised facilities materialised. She calls a teenage boy to her side. “What is there for young people to do here?” she asks. “Nothin’” he replies.

One of the more life-affirming storylines in The Scheme revolved around the Cree family’s unsuccessful campaign to save the threatened Ardbeg Community Centre. After we have finished chatting, I walk to the small garden that now stands on the site.

The garden was designed by architect David Ross, who lived in Onthank as a child, and created with the help of The Beechgrove Garden. Ross had offered his services because he felt The Scheme misrepresented the estate.

Today, it is overgrown. An old mattress has been dumped at the entrance and a broken headboard lies on a path. Many of the flagstones are broken or missing; square, rectangular and hexagonal plant boxes are choked with weeds, though here and there a few stray violas have found a way through.

In Bridgeton, community leaders list the physical improvements to the area. They include the renovation of the old Olympia Theatre (now a library and boxing club) and the old Carnegie library (now the Glasgow Women’s Library) as well as the building of a new block of housing association flats.

In Calton, Betty Cosgrove talks about the community centre and the children’s and pensioners’ activities held in a cargo container. Outside, I pass the Calton Green Volunteers, who are trimming hedges. No-one wants to see this progress jeopardised by a TV programme.

Poverty is a complex topic; its roots are intractable and its effects far-reaching. As Darren McGarvey, author of the Orwell Prize-winning Poverty Safari, points out, there is no shortage of territory to mine. A good documentary could interrogate the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and homelessness, violence and addiction. Or, as Ross suggests, the importance of empowering communities so that – after well- meaning projects like the garden are created – local people have the tools to maintain them. Alternatively, a good documentary could simply tell the stories of the lives of those who live in a community without turning them into the butt of some middle-class joke.

There are plenty of good documentaries. But McGarvey has little faith Born Famous is going to be one of them. “Instead, what C4 appears to be doing is sending two gold-plated wrecking balls into the East End of Glasgow where they will turn the UK’s most radioactive social problem into an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” he says. “For all the immense wealth that is likely to be on display this is as cheap and tacky as you can get.”

Let’s suppose for a moment Born Famous is a sincere attempt to get celebrities like Mone to “check their privilege”: is it likely to yield any insights? What the Parris World In Action shows surely demonstrated was that it is impossible to understand what it means to be poor by make-believing for a short period.

“I just fear [Bethany] is going to be like: ‘Look at me, I am so great, I have lived in poverty for, a week’,” says Claire Parkes. “Then she makes money on the back of that and in the process she ruins our community by bad-mouthing it. The problem is: once something’s said and out there, it cannot be taken back.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786393.1534627147!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786393.1534627147!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Docherty by the Bridgeton bandstand. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Docherty by the Bridgeton bandstand. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786393.1534627147!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786394.1534627156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786394.1534627156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chair of Calton Area Association, Betty Cosgrove. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chair of Calton Area Association, Betty Cosgrove. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786394.1534627156!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786395.1534627159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786395.1534627159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bethany and Michelle Mone","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bethany and Michelle Mone","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786395.1534627159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/house-prices-per-square-metre-rise-20-in-five-years-1-4786259","id":"1.4786259","articleHeadline": "House prices per square metre rise 20% in five years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534598905000 ,"articleLead": "

House prices per square metre have risen 20% in the last five years with properties in west and central Scotland seeing the highest increases, according to new research.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786258.1534598901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Property prices in the west have soared. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Prices in Larkhall and Lanark had the largest increase, rising 33% to an average of £1,163 and £1,184 respectively, closely followed by Dalkeith, Bathgate and Hamilton (all 32%).

Across Scotland, house prices per square metre have risen by 20% since 2013 from an average of £1,320 to £1,579 in 2018.

The Bank of Scotland research found Edinburgh is Scotland’s most expensive town at £2,669 per square metre followed by Linlithgow in West Lothian (£2,076 per square metre) and Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire (£2,039 per square metre).

Grangemouth in the central belt is the least expensive town in Scotland with an average price of £1,016 per square metre, followed by Bellshill in North Lanarkshire (£1,030 per square metre) and Greenock in Inverclyde (1,090 per square metre).

These three locations are among the ten least expensive towns per square metre in Great Britain.

Graham Blair, Bank of Scotland mortgages director, said: “It can be useful when comparing house prices to use a measure such as house price per square metre as it reflects differences in size and type of properties in different locations.

“Towns in the east and the north are more expensive than west and central areas.

“However, several towns in the west have seen significant increases in the last five years.

“Despite this, a clear gap has formed between England, particularly London, and Scotland, Ireland and Wales over the last 20 years.”

Of the top 10 most expensive towns in Scotland per square metre, six are in Edinburgh and the Lothians with the remaining four in Aberdeenshire, while eight of the ten towns with the lowest prices per square metre are in either central or western Scotland.

The research suggests the housing market is less polarised than south of the border, where the difference between Lambeth (one of the top 10 most expensive boroughs in England), and Nelson (the least expensive town in England) is £5,465.

In contrast in Scotland the difference in price per square metre between Broxburn (one of the top 10 most expensive towns in Scotland), and Grangemouth (the least expensive town in Scotland) is only £653 per square metre.

Over the last 20 years the average price per square metre across Scotland has increased by 148% from £637 in 1998 to £1,579 in 2018.

This is the lowest increase of any area of Great Britain, with Greater London experiencing price hikes of 301% and Wales seeing an increase of 180%.

The average increase across Great Britain since 1998 is 215%.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786258.1534598901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786258.1534598901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Property prices in the west have soared. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Property prices in the west have soared. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786258.1534598901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/first-of-upgraded-high-speed-trains-arrives-at-haymarket-depot-1-4786240","id":"1.4786240","articleHeadline": "First of upgraded high speed trains arrives at Haymarket depot","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534588759000 ,"articleLead": "

The first of 26 upgraded InterCity trains has arrived in Edinburgh and will get to work in the coming weeks, according to ScotRail.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786239.1534589055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "ScotRail's refurbished InterCity trains. Picture: ScotRail"} ,"articleBody": "

The operator said its train arrived at the Haymarket depot in Edinburgh on Friday evening.

The refurbished train - which was fitted out in Doncaster, South Yorkshire - is set to enter service on the Aberdeen to Edinburgh line once crew training has been completed, ScotRail said.

Overall, 17 upgraded five-carriage trains and nine four-carriage trains are set to be used on services linking all seven cities in Scotland, with the rollout expected to be complected by late 2019.

ScotRail said the renovated trains have more seats and luggage space for passengers.

Chris Tait, the operator’s high-speed trains project manager, said: “They will transform rail travel in Scotland by providing more seats and a much-improved on-board environment.

“It’s all part of our work to build the best railway Scotland’s ever had.”

George Davidson, Transport Scotland’s rolling stock manager, said: “This is an important milestone in our efforts to improve capacity on our rail services, alongside an enhanced passenger experience.”

Join our Facebook group Our Edinburgh to share images and news from and around the Capital

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786239.1534589055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786239.1534589055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "ScotRail's refurbished InterCity trains. Picture: ScotRail","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "ScotRail's refurbished InterCity trains. Picture: ScotRail","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786239.1534589055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/gareth-shaw-pension-panic-may-be-a-little-premature-1-4786085","id":"1.4786085","articleHeadline": "Gareth Shaw: Pension panic may be a little premature","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534568459000 ,"articleLead": "

Every year, without fail, a story will rear its head about a government “raid” on your pension. Usually close to the Budget, or Autumn (now Spring) Statement, the cunning chancellor of the day is going to hack away at the incentives for saving into a pension, making them far less generous, in order to save billions for the public purse.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786084.1534521384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pension savers do need stability to properly plan for the future, and get very nervous about possible changes to tax relief"} ,"articleBody": "

I usually know this not from the newspapers, but from the onslaught of emails from investment and pension companies screaming that my pension is under attack. And, of course, that I should be piling more money into my retirement pot to beat the wicked chancellor before he snatches away my benefits. There are, after all, juicy fees to collect with every new pound that drops into a pension.

In fairness, pension benefits have regularly been chipped away at over the years – but certainly not to the levels that these firms make out.

The lifetime allowance – the total amount you can save into a pension – has been chopped from a high of £1.8m in 2011/12 to as low as £1m in 2017/18, although it now rises with inflation each year and currently stands at £1.03m.

The annual allowance, the maximum you can pay into a pension each year and earn tax relief, has also been cut dramatically. In 2010/11, it was an incredible £255,000. It now sits at £40,000.

But how does this save the government money?

When you save into a pension, the government likes to give you a bonus as a way of rewarding you for saving for your future. This comes in the form of tax relief. Some of your money that you would have paid in tax on your earnings goes into your pension pot rather than to the government.

The idea is that you don’t get taxed on the way into saving for your retirement, but you do get taxed when you finally withdraw money from your pot, so the government can recoup its outlay.

The amount of relief you get is based on your income tax rate. So, if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer in Scotland you get 20 per cent tax relief. Say you were to contribute £100 from your salary into your pension, it would actually only cost you £80. The government adds an extra £20 on top – what it would have taken in tax from £100 of your salary. Starter rate taxpayers, who pay 19 per cent income tax, get 20 per cent pension tax relief.

When allowances are cut, less can be invested into a pension, which means the government doesn’t have to fork out as much in tax relief. But there are other advantages. Pension contributions are invested, and grow free of income tax, dividend tax and capital gains tax. That’s all money the government is missing out on, so if less is going into a pension and being invested elsewhere, it gives the government the opportunity to collect more taxes.

The one thing which gets people hopping up and down, though, is the potential for cuts to the actual level of tax relief.

The amount paid out is enormous. According to HMRC figures, pension tax relief cost the government £38.6bn in 2016/17. In January this year, HMRC said it expected this figure to rise to £41bn in 2017/18.

The most explicit indication that this could be up for grabs came three years ago, when then-Chancellor George Osborne launched a consultation called “Strengthening the incentive to save”. In this, there were proposals to level off tax relief so that everyone – no matter how much income tax you paid – got the same flat rate of relief. There were other radical ideas, such as doing away with tax relief altogether, and instead making pension withdrawals tax free, similar to an Isa. Indeed, the Lifetime Isa, which pays a bonus on contributions that can eventually be used to either buy your first home or for retirement, is a prototype for such a model.

This consultation – and any subsequent changes to pension tax relief – was ultimately kicked into the long grass, but I suspect those warning emails I mentioned earlier are about to start pouring in again.

A couple of weeks ago, the influential Treasury Committee published a wide-ranging report which, among many things, advocated for reform to tax relief. This cross-party group flagged that in 2015/16, 52 per cent of the total income tax relief paid on pension contributions went to individuals earning £50,000 or above, up slightly from 49 per cent in 2010/11 – essentially, that the current system rewards the better off and doesn’t help those that are in greater need of a healthy retirement pot.

Many of the witnesses the committee spoke to argued that “tax relief is not an effective or well-targeted way of incentivising saving into pensions”, despite the huge cost to the taxpayer. Baroness Ros Altmann, a former pensions minister, said that even the term ‘tax relief’ may confuse people into thinking they’ll be taxed, rather than the actual “free money” they get from pension saving.

The committee as good as gave the government the nudge to pursue the kind of sweeping reforms that were proposed in 2015. In the meantime, it recommended that the lifetime allowance was scrapped, the annual allowance was cut and that the government moved to a flat rate of tax relief – pretty radical in and of itself.

Another former pensions minister, Sir Steve Webb, has warned against any changes, arguing that pension savers need stability to properly plan for the future. But after a few years of relative silence from lawmakers on the issue, I suspect that tax relief reform is going to be in play when we to come to this year’s Budget in a few months’ time.

My inbox is already quivering at the thought of it.

Gareth Shaw is head of Which? Money Online

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786084.1534521384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786084.1534521384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pension savers do need stability to properly plan for the future, and get very nervous about possible changes to tax relief","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pension savers do need stability to properly plan for the future, and get very nervous about possible changes to tax relief","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786084.1534521384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-wilson-no-deal-brexit-optimists-should-look-to-greece-1-4786121","id":"1.4786121","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: No Deal Brexit optimists should look to Greece","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534568454000 ,"articleLead": "

Greece will next week exit the European Stability Mechanism after eight years of receiving massive payments to relieve chronic burdens caused by spending more than it earned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786119.1534524261!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Greece's problems were created by years of political irresponsibility. Picture: AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

It is unlikely this milestone will be greeted with much dancing in the tavernas. Greece’s living standards and public services remain far below pre-crisis levels and nobody expects significant improvement for many years to come.

I was in Athens this week and symptoms of near-catastrophe were abundant – great expanses of boarded up businesses, half-finished buildings, crumbling infrastructure.

Not all of the legacies are visible. Around half a million Greeks emigrated during the early years of the crisis – most of them young and well qualified with transportable skills. A generation of the country’s brightest and best has been lost.

Austerity on a scale beyond our imaginings have left Greek welfare support as a safety net for the most needy. Tax rises have sent businesses fleeing to more benign jurisdictions, particularly Bulgaria. The IMF thinks Greece will need debt relief long into the future.

Greece’s problems were created by years of political irresponsibility – misreporting of statistics and avoidance of economic realities, abetted by membership of the Eurozone which limited options for responding, even if government had been prepared to act. Let’s just summarise it as “political irresponsibility”.

There is a lot of that around at present and maybe its practitioners should be obliged to study Greece for an object lesson in what happens in real, human terms when evidence is neglected by politicians who cannot afford to face up to the conclusions which flow from it.

The increasing babble about “no deal Brexit” and how life could go on perfectly normally clearly fits that pattern. The fundamental point is that those who propagate that message are utterly uninterested in evidence to the contrary. Ideological hatred of the European Union trumps everything.

In that atmosphere sane people are called on to recant for speaking simple truth. The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had no sooner described a no-deal Brexit as “a mistake we would regret for generations” than he was forced to “clarify” that Britain would “survive and prosper”. Well, that’s reassuring.

I cling to the belief that our political system is not yet so crazed as to allow a “no deal Brexit” and then stand back to observe the consequences – for jobs, for trade, for border controls, for living standards, for the rights of British citizens abroad… the list is endless.

The fact it is even contemplated is a warning sign – that single issue zealots who led us into this mess with shameless disregard for evidence or truth still need to be faced down. Planning for the amelioration of chaos cannot become normalised as a rational option purely in order to appease the otherwise unappeasable.

In Scotland, we have an equally irrational form of fundamentalist politics. The SNP’s ironically named Growth Commission acknowledged that an independent Scotland would start life with a deficit greater than any EU country – including Greece at its lowest ebb. Small wonder the SNP leadership is not prepared to advertise the report at its annual conference. However, that does not stop them talking endlessly about their own preferred cliff-edge - the prospect of a second independence referendum.

Whatever uncertainties a negotiated Brexit will create, they are as nothing compared to the slough of economic despond a UK-exit would visit upon Scotland. To exaggerate the former while blandly denying the latter is absurd – particularly when their own blueprint now acknowledges a starting-point of Greek proportions and beyond.

Vast reliance is placed by the Nationalists on the beneficial role of immigration. Yet no account is taken of the certainty that, in the economic scenario acknowledged by the Growth Commission, there would be lots of out-migration – just like Greece. That reflects a curious imbalance of priorities.

The Greek experience is not a hypothesis but a reality which is available to be studied and learned from. One obvious conclusion is that it is never politicians who led the charge towards a cliff-edge who end up paying the price of their folly.

Runrig were more than a band

The 1970s were an interesting time on Skye.

I was there as editor of the fledgling West Highland Free Press which championed land reform, stood four-square with Gaelic and called the powerful to account – all under the old Land League slogan of “An Tir, An Canan, sna’Daoine/The Land, the Language and the People”.

My friends and kindred spirits on the island included the guys who started out as The Run-Rig Dance Band, live at the Skye Gathering Hall, and this weekend will bring down the curtain on a glorious 45-year career with two huge concerts in Stirling. I will join the throng with a lot of good memories.

Few in these days gave much for the future of Gaelic on Skye or anywhere else. One of its difficulties was the absence of a genre which remotely bridged the gap with what was going on elsewhere in the musical world. The significance of Runrig’s emergence cannot, in that respect, be overstated.

Counter-intuitively, an estate on Skye was bought by a merchant banker who was intensely committed to the Gaelic cause. Ian Noble turned an old steading into the genesis of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college which has grown mightily. For the past 20 years, Donnie Munro has been its development director.

The impact of these developments has lived on down to the present day. A lot has changed, not least the positive prospects for Gaelic in spite of all the challenges faced by a minority language in the 21st century.

Two unchangeables have been Rory and Calum MacDonald, at the heart of Runrig from day one. As demonstrated by the response to these final, final concerts, Runrig retain huge loyalty which has transcended the generations. They have reciprocated that loyalty – to their land, their language and their people.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786119.1534524261!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786119.1534524261!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Greece's problems were created by years of political irresponsibility. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Greece's problems were created by years of political irresponsibility. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786119.1534524261!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4786120.1534524265!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4786120.1534524265!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The significance of Runrig's emergence cannot be overstated in terms of the Gaelic language","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The significance of Runrig's emergence cannot be overstated in terms of the Gaelic language","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4786120.1534524265!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/food-and-drink-scots-get-a-taste-for-the-food-on-their-doorstep-1-4784981","id":"1.4784981","articleHeadline": "Food and drink: Scots get a taste for the food on their doorstep","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534511655000 ,"articleLead": "

A fight back over a Big Mac led by an angry Italian gourmand may seem an odd starting point for a revolution. It was 1986, and burger giant McDonald’s was continuing its march to becoming a worldwide brand.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784980.1534508470!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "PIC: LISA FERGUSON Head Chef and Owner Paul Wedgewood with his chefs Craig Ferguson and Piotr Witt 'Wedgwood the Restaurant has sponsored its very own branded rickshaw."} ,"articleBody": "

The arrival of the fast food chain at Piazza di Spagna at the foot of Rome’s Spanish Steps left one man seething.

Bob Donald, of Slow Food Scotland, takes up the story. “Carlo Petrini got more and more annoyed that McDonald’s was opening up restaurants across the world. The idea of one opening at the Spanish Steps in Rome was, he thought, going too far,” he explains.

“He invited people on opening day to instead share a dish of pasta. He wanted to preserve the regional dishes in his country, to embrace food that had been grown locally, as opposed to eating the same food in Rome as people were eating in Tokyo.”

Unlikely revolutionary Petrini sowed the seeds for what would become the international slow food movement. Next year marks three decades of it encouraging consumers to reconnect with locally produced food, its cultures and traditions, and to take renewed interest in where food comes from and how their choices affect the world around them.

While not every consumer will be familiar with all the ideals of the slow food movement, its ethos of celebrating local produce and in doing so supporting farmers and small artisan producers, is increasingly woven into our daily lives.

Last year industry magazine The Caterer declared “provenance” – the way food can be traced from the fork back to the farm and the way it has been produced – as one of the key food trends for 2018. But it’s far from a flash in the pan. In recent years Scots have embraced locally sourced ingredients straight from the farm or the kitchen of a passionate artisan producer, and in doing so have helped create today’s flourishing artisan food sector.

It’s a shift that has led to Queen Margaret University, near Musselburgh, offering the UK’s first and only gastronomy MSc, in which students study links between food culture and communication, science, production and even politics.

Meanwhile, farmers’ markets across the country attract hundreds of shoppers who want to hear the stories behind artisan-produced gin, locally-grown rapeseed oil, game and hand-crafted chocolates.

Farm gate shops are thriving, pick-your-own is booming and fruit and vegetable boxes straight from the farm are common.

And – perhaps ironically – supermarkets, keen to claw back customers by highlighting their own connections with the farm and artisan sector, are increasingly trumpeting the provenance of what they sell.

Recently Morrisons’ boss David Potts stressed the brand is a “British retailer with a British supply chain”, and last year the Co-operative announced an end to fresh meat imports and cleared New Zealand lamb and Danish bacon from its shelves.

Discounter Aldi has embraced the theme with its Best of Scottish labelling. It takes more than 350 Scottish products from over 80 suppliers.

Even McDonald’s has taken to highlighting how the beef it uses is 100 per cent British or Irish and its fries come from UK-grown potatoes.

Provenance has become an important ingredient in our food. So what else has fuelled this “need to know”? And what difference is it making to the food and drink sector?

Donald, network coordinator of Slow Food Scotland, says it’s partly down to a string of food-related health scares and increasing awareness of how our choices affect the environment.

“My grandmother used to go to the butcher once a week, she knew where everything she was buying came from,” he says.

“But a fall in food education in schools and a rise in supermarkets training people into thinking a leek is exactly 12 inches long, 10 per cent green and 90 per cent white, and delivered in plastic packaging meant people were increasingly disconnected.”

Food horror stories, from “mad cow” disease and horsemeat to salmonella-infected eggs and foot and mouth disease, chipped away consumer confidence just as farmers were seeking to boost their income by selling direct to customers at the farm gate.

They found consumers eager to reconnect with food and enjoy the nostalgia of shopping like their grandparents.

“Perth Farmers’ Market was the first in Scotland,” says its manager Adeline Watson.

“There are more than 70 now. It started with 12 stalls of farmers in 1999. Now there are more than 50, many of them artisan producers selling things like rapeseed oil and chocolate made with ingredients which the producer has foraged for herself.

“So today we’re more like an outdoor delicatessen.”

The search for provenance has also sparked a revival in products which once fell from grace or simply off the supermarket chains’ radar.

Musselburgh Leeks, shorter and thicker than supermarket varieties and grown on a patch of previously unused land near Lasswade, find their way into dishes at the Scottish Café in the Scottish National Gallery and Contini Ristorante, both in Edinburgh; Ailsa Craig tomatoes grown in the Clyde valley have returned after a 40-year absence and veal, once eschewed by consumers, is enjoying a revival.

“People didn’t want to touch veal,” says Watson. “People got the wrong impression about it, yet happily ate lamb. The veal producer at our market has fought to get the message out that their animals are well looked after, they’re fed the best of food and not slaughtered any younger than a lamb.

“People want to hear the stories about food and to try something different. They can taste something before they buy it, which helps too.”

Soon the push towards locally produced food could take an even more striking upward trajectory: a recent YouGov survey claimed one in five people say they are more likely to buy British food after Brexit because they want to support the domestic economy.

Social media is also helping to drive customers’ fascination with provenance. Instagram snaps of artisan producers foraging for ingredients against a backdrop of stunning scenery means consumers can buy into the lifestyle as well as the product, especially if there’s a good story behind it.

Stories like those of Mara Seaweed, which has its roots in a school gate meeting that led to two mums foraging for seaweed with their children and creating a product which is sold around the world, fascinate consumers.

“Customers want to know where their food comes from,” says Mara Seaweed co-founder Fiona Houston. “People have cottoned on to the fact that ‘industrial’ food is not good for our health.

“Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the ethics of food. And the brand story is an important part.

“There’s a new generation that’s much more aware about climate change and they know we have to be aware of the resources we have.”

Matthew Hopkins, managing director of the Great British Exchange, which acts as a go-between for retailers and artisan producers, agrees that demand for provenance is here to stay.

“Consumers want a story behind what they buy. We have retailers who tell us they can’t sell Coca-Cola as cheap as Tesco but they can sell a bottle of locally made ginger beer for £5.

“When we talk to a gin producer about their new brand, we don’t just want to know that it’s locally made, but also where the juniper berries were grown and what the story behind it is.”

Chef Paul Wedgwood, right, of Wedgwood the Restaurant in Edinburgh’s Canongate, is a keen forager and uses locally sourced, wild-growing ingredients in his recipes.

He says: “Consumers’ heightened desire for traceability and provenance of food is of benefit to the industry as a whole, but especially to all the small independents.

“In a cost-conscious world, consumers are now willing to pay slightly extra for products, ingredients and dishes which they know have been ethically sourced.

“It’s important to list the provenance of the produce but also for the consumer to actually use that information and investigate themselves as to the quality of the produce they are receiving.”

Alongside the producers creating the next artisan delicacy is a flourishing support chain.

In Cumbernauld, specialist wholesaler the Food and Drink Hub helps more than 350 Scottish products reach the marketplace, while at Queen Margaret University, near Musselburgh, the Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation helps small producers scale up output and innovate.

Catriona Liddle, who runs the centre, says: “Small businesses don’t have the resources to develop new products or scale up. There’s legislation to work around, laboratory issues, suppliers issues.”

The university provides vital analysis of nutritional content of products, feedback trials and focus group taste tests to help producers develop and expand their products.

And there’s business support to help producers connect with academic support, markets and other businesses.

Among the businesses to take advantage of QMU’s support is East Lothian rapeseed oil producer Black & Gold, which wanted to establish the omega-3 nutritional content of the oil.

Director Louise Elder said the tie-up gave the business access to invaluable experience and research in the food industry not only in Scotland but the rest of the world.

“Engaging with academics who could increase the product potential is extremely rewarding for very small, inexperienced and young businesses.

“The collaboration has been highly profitable in terms of understanding the efficacy of our product and we now feel we can communicate its benefits accurately to our customers.”

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.

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As The Scotsman prepares for its annual Food & Drink Conference, we asked leading figures in in the sector for their thoughts on its theme, Beyond Brexit: Future-proofing food and drink in Scotland.

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Claire Pollock, partner, Ardross Farm Shop

I think education is key to future-proofing food and drink in Scotland. People eat and drink each and every day – but do they really know what they are eating or drinking or why they are eating and drinking?

As a country we have one of the highest animal welfare standards in the world but do people know where their food is coming from?

Do they know why a sirloin steak from our farm shop may be completely different nutritionally from another one they may pick up for the same price?

We are extremely lucky in Scotland, and I am even luckier in Fife to have such a vast array of fantastic food producers on my doorstep, but I think education would really be the key to appreciating them.

On a personal level this includes taking our staff around the farm to see us working with the cattle and sheep and how we grow our vegetables. It includes supplier visits to show how products are made, it include us helping customer with cooking instructions and giving them information about new products.

On another note, I think for Scotland as a whole that it is crazy that we haven’t ensured that Scotch whisky can only be made by Scottish grain and Scottish water and in Scotland.

I think this would provide a massive lift across not only agriculture but all other sectors in Scotland.

We have seen it done in many other situations and with many other food and drinks, so why can’t we protect what is a Scottish product and reap the rewards as a country by doing so?

Eric Galbraith, head of food and drink, Brodies

In the food and drink sector, recent incidents have highlighted the significant financial and reputational damage that can arise from the breakdown of supply chains.

A prime example is the shortage of carbon dioxide that resulted in some drink manufacturers rationing supplies to retailers and the temporary closure of a Scottish pig abattoir which relied on carbon dioxide to stun the animals before slaughter.

To future-proof the industry, robust written contractual agreements are essential to ensure that all parties understand their collective roles and responsibilities as well as potential liability exposure if things go wrong.

For instance, supply contracts should deal with responsibility for delivery failures, defective goods, and product recalls.

Reputational damage can be substantial and businesses should carefully consider the scope of appropriate indemnity protection to ensure that any potential loss can be quantifiable.

Businesses should also consider imposing a contractual obligation on suppliers to obtain insurance to cover financial losses arising from food safety or supply chain issues.

Lynne Gray, director, Burness Paull

Burness Paull’s clients cover all aspects of the food and drink sector, from all parts of Scotland.

As the sector goes from strength to strength they are facing an exciting, if challenging, period. The best way to future- proof anything is to be prepared and ready to adapt.

We are listening and helping clients prepare for the challenges ahead, whether Brexit, employment, succession planning, tech advances or coping with the ever-changing complex compliance and regulatory landscape.

With the increased importance of provenance, quality and origin of 
products are key, alongside compliance and management of brand and reputation 
– even more so with increasing punishment for regulatory breaches which could literally make or break small companies.

While nothing can ever be future-proofed, food and drink in Scotland will be well placed to build on recent success by being prepared, ready to adapt and willing to invest in a healthy future.

Fiona Maguire, chief executive, Riverside Inverclyde

Riverside Inverclyde is focusing on three core areas to future-proof the food and drink sector, namely removing barriers for manufacturers, developing skills and courses to tackle the future skills gap while seeking to capitalise on the food tourism opportunities available to Scotland.

All three are vital in supporting the regeneration of Inverclyde.

The delivery of our pioneering Baker Street food and drink incubator in spring 2019, with its associated business support, will see Inverclyde able to provide start-up and small businesses with a legitimate avenue to help turn their passion into successful businesses.

Riverside Inverclyde is collaborating with West College Scotland, DYW West, Glasgow Caledonian University and Inverclyde Council’s education department to promote food and drink career opportunities to Inverclyde residents.

Riverside Inverclyde has also launched Taste Inverclyde, a vehicle to support and promote independent eateries and bars to residents but also the 700,000 tourists that visit Inverclyde annually.

In getting these three areas right, we will provide a solid footing in our aims for Inverclyde to play an important role in the growth of the food and drink sector in Scotland.

Matthew Allan, manager, Anderson Anderson & Brown

The Scottish food and drink industry is a globally recognised brand and continuing to strengthen the brand will be key.

There will need to be collaboration from field to table and a wide variety of businesses from different sectors will all play a uniquely different role in future-proofing a growing and important industry in this country.

Businesses will need to continue to be innovative and open to new developments in technology; seeking and capitalising on opportunities both locally and internationally; and engaging early with professional advisers and the finance sector to enhance efficiencies in their processes and to assist them in understanding the relevant tax breaks which will allow them to reinvest money back into their businesses.

Iain Clunie, food and drink programme manager, Zero Waste Scotland

The food and drink industry is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy, worth around £14 billion a year. But an estimated 740,000 tonnes of food waste is generated in the sector annually. Imagine the possibilities if nothing was wasted.

Meeting Scotland’s target to reduce food waste by one third is an enormous task, but it’s achievable if we work together.

The first step is to identify the cause of food waste in your business. There could be many reasons, and therefore many solutions, and we’re here to help.

Do you effectively plan to buy in the right amount of stock, is old or poorly maintained equipment contributing to food waste and have you considered an alternative use for your by-products?

Zero Waste Scotland has helped businesses across Scotland to reduce food waste, from funding innovative technology to introducing partnerships where both parties can benefit from the “leftovers”.

Eleanor Coates, director, trade marks, Murgitroyd

The impact of Brexit on the food and drink sector in Scotland could be substantial, particularly in terms of a fall of EU workers, but there are positives.

There is opportunity to market and expand the great local produce from Scotland to the rest of the UK and potential new markets outwith the EU – intellectual property can assist with clear branding, be it through producers’ own trade marks, seeking more geographical indications (protection of a product from a particular area with known characteristics) or collective marks (where a group of producers can use the same brand indicating a quality along with their own brand to indicate produce of an association of growers or producers) – all of which inform and educate consumers of the origin and quality of food and drink.

Getting across the message of Scotland’s great produce is going to be key to future-proofing markets.

Jim McLaren, chairman, Quality Meat Scotland

In business, it is essential to focus what energy and time we have in managing and improving the things within our control.

Too often we expect someone else to come to our aid, when the amalgamation of small changes within our own control can actually lead to a major change in fortune for any business.

Therefore, worrying about Brexit, exchange rates, interest rates or even the weather is guaranteed to be a less effective use of scarce resource.

Focus should be on greater business efficiency, better customer service, product innovation or even producing more accurate budgets and cash projections.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation

As concerns are raised about Brexit’s impact on the UK’s international trade, Scottish salmon is enjoyed in more than 60 countries worldwide and generated overseas sales of more than £600 million last year. At the same time, it remains the UK shopper’s favourite fish.

A supportive business environment in Scotland is important to our continued success.

Secure and reliable transport and infrastructure, a strong supply chain and a good local workforce, allied to an ambitious UK trade policy, will help shape a future where we meet the world’s appetite for our globally renowned salmon.

I am confident that the quality, provenance and reputation of Scottish salmon, as with many other Scottish foods, will ensure that it remains highly prized.

What’s more, so much of what has helped make Scottish salmon a global success remains in our own hands here in Scotland, even as we leave the EU.

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.

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When Steve Richards, chief executive of Casual Dining Group which includes Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, told a London conference how much his highest paid waitress earns, there must have been a gasp in the room.

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Far from being the meagre offering some might associate with the hospitality sector, his best earner was in a league typically reserved for comfortable white-collar professionals.

“My highest paid waitress is on £50,000 a year with tips,” he revealed, adding that the average earnings in his group is a relatively healthy £26,000.

“The casual dining market and restaurants, particularly high-end restaurants, are very good payers. That message is clearly lost in the fog,” he concluded.

It’s a fog that engulfs much of the food and drink sector and one which the industry in Scotland is desperate to clear.

Confronted with a skills shortage at the same time as demand for the nation’s high-quality produce is rising, and with increasing numbers drawn to sample Scotland’s hospitality, highlighting the sector’s rewards and diverse career opportunities has become a priority.

The urgency is not lost on Paul Brennan, director of multiple award-winning Edinburgh brasserie Dine. “I’ve been in the hospitality industry for nearly three decades and have witnessed first-hand the increasing skills gap across the sector, with a marked increase within the past year,” he says.

“In Edinburgh the skills shortage is particularly evident, the impact on restaurants is immense.

“The main challenge for many is recruiting and retaining talented, inspired staff with hands-on experience who want a career and view the industry as a profession, as opposed to some short-term work.”

He is playing his part: salaries at Dine outstrip those of many office jobs and are boosted by regular bonuses, enhanced holidays and straight shifts for a better work-life balance.

Brennan also offers continuous training and mentoring, and invests in the next generation by taking on rookies and offering intensive training to get them up to speed.

But with a national strategy to double the value of Scotland’s food and drink sector to £30 billion by 2030, what is everyone else doing?

And how, amid Brexit uncertainty and with a fall in migrant workers already being felt in Scotland’s fruit farms, hotels and restaurants, can the sector hope to achieve it?

A Skills Investment Plan developed by the industry in partnership with Skills Development Scotland identified four key themes: raising the 
profile and image of the sector; driving leadership and management excellence; skills for business improvement; and skills for business growth.

According to Gerry McBride, Skills Development Scotland’s skills planning and sector development 
manager for food and drink, it is already behind a range of initiatives to make the sector more attractive to young people, to those looking to return to work or change career. He says: “Online, My World of Work gives young people facts and figures about the sector, how it’s performing and suggestions about the different jobs, from farming and production through to manufacturing.

“This year we are also offering food and drink technology foundation apprenticeships for young people in senior phase at school.”

The two-year foundation apprenticeships, which are still in pilot form, will see fifth-year pupils spend half a day a week at college, before an industry placement in their final school year.

“We’ve also created education and business partnerships, so schools can visit businesses, and open days to find out how products are made and get to market,” adds McBride.

“For some time, industry has said there’s a shortage of food scientists, so we are engaging with the sector to discuss demand for a new graduate apprenticeship in food, science and technology.”

That would enable workers already in the food sector to “upskill” and gain additional qualifications while in the workplace – benefiting both worker and employer.

But the scale and diversity of the sector – from farms to restaurants, laboratory-based innovation and quality control to marketing – means nailing the skills and talent gap won’t be easy – particularly as the sector is still often regarded as tying staff to unsociable hours and low pay.

“I think the sector provides jobs for everyone,” adds McBride. “There’s a real diversity. Entry level, low skill and lower paid jobs offer the opportunity to develop. There are many examples of people building a very successful, prolonged career having started entry level jobs.”

While schools, colleges and universities have a role to play, industry is also rising to the challenge.

One exciting industry-led programme in the north-east sees farmers, who might not typically hire an apprentice, joining forces.

“The shared apprenticeship model means the apprentice gets a different experience at each farm and helps address farmers’ concerns over labour,” adds McBride.

Traditional apprenticeships are just as vital as innovative ideas. “In the Scotch whisky industry, coopers who prepare the barrels follow a four-year apprenticeship, with a young person put with an experienced worker. They form a bond and learn on the job from them.

“It is critical to the whisky industry that those apprenticeships continue.”

The sector directly employs 7,000 people and Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, is conscious of the need to nurture its talent pipeline. “The Scotch whisky industry values highly skilled individuals and, in return, employees across the industry are rewarded with well paid jobs and opportunities to continue to develop their skills, and many remain in the industry for the whole of their careers,” she says.

“The industry is looking closely at its skills pipeline in Scotland.

“It has a range of conversations with the Scottish Government about the sorts of skills we will need in the future and how we can make sure the young people coming through the education system are learning 
these skills to ensure they can take 
up jobs in the industry if they want to.”

But there’s no escaping the challenges, from reduced access to employees from the EU, an ageing workforce and customer pressure for increased productivity all playing a part.

Alan Clarke, chairman of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s people and skills board and chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland, says: “The current marketplace is extremely competitive, with retailers, restaurants and other food service providers looking for differentiation and ways of standing out and adding value to the supply chain.

“This is often achieved by product innovation, improved processes to ensure product consistency and measures to drive costs out of the production process.

“Our workforce needs to have the knowledge, skills and experience to tackle these key issues.”

Education and employers need to work together, he says.

“Scotland’s work-based training providers, colleges and universities provide a wide range of programmes and qualifications for the sector.

“However, both the primary and production sectors have a responsibility to manage the development of their workforce and there is a strong infrastructure of support available for those who decide to use it.

“The benefits are there to see for the many companies already utilising development programmes.

“I urge others to follow suit and engage with the programmes available to create an innovative, skills-led workforce for Scotland’s food and drinks industry.”

Professor John Lennon, the director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development based at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), says better pay and conditions are critical if the sector is to become more attractive, but need to be combined with industry training and education awards.

“The hospitality and tourism industry must provide transparent career pathways, quality training, outstanding progression possibilities and quality conditions and rewards.

“In GCU we are offering graduate apprenticeships in Scotland and degree apprenticeships in England (via GCU London).

“Both are currently in generic management areas but as an institution we are keen to embrace more subject areas and extend our proven track record in what is a transformational approach to education and training.”

Meanwhile, back at Dine, Brennan says everyone has a role to play. “The industry is under such pressure, it’s time the Government offered help to drive this industry and change perceptions.

“If we can instil passion in this generation from a young age, they will be proud of their career and motivated to help evolve and grow Scotland’s food and drink sector.”

If anyone knows the opportunities a career in the food and drinks sector can offer, it’s Mark Barker.

As a highly experienced chef, he’s worked around the world in some famous establishments, including the Dorchester Hotel in London, the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa St Andrews and the Scottish Parliament.

Now he’s passing on his skills as a lecturer in professional cookery at Scotland’s Rural College’s Elmwood campus in Fife.

“The industry has completely changed for the better from when I joined in the 1970s,” he says.

“There are lots of opportunities – it’s not just about working in a hotel or a restaurant.

“People do have to be aware that there’s no quick fix, though. You still have to work hard.

“But the rewards are out there. I’ve travelled the world and had a wonderful career.

“I remember my dad saying, ‘Don’t work in a kitchen, it’s anti-social and hard work’. But I’ve had wonderful experiences as a result of work. We need to tell people how good it can be.”

Richard Mayne is cluster general manager for Radisson Blu Edinburgh and Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh, and also chairs a subgroup in Skills Development Scotland focused on attracting quality chefs and cooks to the hospitality industry.

He says a strong emphasis on training and engagement with apprenticeship and scholarship schemes helps to inspire staff and encourage them to stay in the industry.

“Staff are empowered and this gives them a passion for their roles.

“They know that with commitment they can progress in the business and in the wider hotel sector.

“For example, our cluster revenue development manager, Rachel Camorani, started her career as a part-time waitress and is now in a senior management position with the hotel.”

He adds: “We must do more to ensure young people see Scotland’s hotel and hospitality sector as a career path of choice.”

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.

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Food and drink has been Scotland’s best performing sector in recent years, with record exports and sales at home increasing rapidly. And within the sector, manufacturing in Scotland is growing at twice the rate of the UK average.

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Last year the Scottish food and drinks industry launched Ambition 2030, which set out the vision to make farming, fishing, food and drink Scotland’s most valuable industry, with the aim of more than doubling turnover to £30 billion in just over a decade.

The strategy was developed by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, an industry-led group of the sector’s main organisations, alongside the Scottish Government.

Graham Young, industry development director with Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, says: “Since the launch a year ago we have been working to develop an action plan with industry stakeholders identifying how to grow.” One potential target is in health and wellness related to food. He says: “It is a real market opportunity. Consumers around the world are interested in food for health so we have commissioned research to see where the opportunities lie.”

The whole area of data processing and blockchain and how that ties in to food authenticity is another which has the potential to benefit the industry, improving supply lines and minimising waste. In terms of quality assurance and authenticity, the technology could be vital.

While growing exports is key to the industry’s success, Young says: “One of the things that has been brought home to us since the launch [of Ambition 2030] is that we need to concentrate on the UK market too – it is not all about exports.

“We run regional showcases to put suppliers in touch with buyers from both home and abroad in a sort of speed-dating opportunity, which has been very successful.”

The industry is also pursuing the massive opportunities offered by tourists. Young says: “There are people who come to Scotland because of its food and drink, particularly its whisky, but we could really maximise that by working jointly with the Scottish Tourism Alliance. An increase in this type of visitor would be a win-win for both industries.”

In terms of overseas sales, the project employs people around the world, from California to Japan, to promote Scottish food and drink.

It has received positive feedback and results, so funding is being sought to continue.

Achieving targets for growth will be a result of working at both macro and micro levels.

Young says: “Although the bigger picture is that we want to double the value of the industry by 2030, this involves working with different sectors to see where the opportunity lies in each.

“We have already worked with the fruit, vegetable and potato sectors to get their response and ideas for 2030, and similarly we have developed a pig and pork strategy action plan. A venison one is on the way, as is craft brewing, and we have been working with the seafood industry, with a dairy action plan in the pipeline.

“In the bigger picture, it involves getting producers – whether salmon exporters, butchers, bakers – into the same room to work together, adding value and reducing costs across their sector and discussing how to keep up with international competition.”

But it is also about smaller initiatives and getting individuals to work together for the common good.

Young says: “Colleagues have brought together honeyberry producers in the north-east to research the development of valued-added products such as yoghurt or gin.

“Speciality cheese makers and chocolatiers can share knowledge and experience. They are competing with each other but some issues are best addressed together.”

In terms of turnover and exports, the strategy is already reaping rewards. Non-whisky exports are growing, which is positive in terms of broadening Scotland’s output beyond.

Equally, dependency on European exports has been around 80 per cent for non-whisky products but the latest figures show that falling as Scotland Food & Drink Partnership staff continue to grow exports to North America and other regions.

Young explains: “We want the cake to grow bigger and have the slices to be more even across the food and drink industry.”

High on the list of ways that the industry can achieve its aims is innovation, in products, efficiency, supply chain productivity and the targeting of new markets.

When a company innovates, it is twice as likely to grow and three times more likely to export successfully, yet just a tiny proportion of the industry’s value is spent on research and development.

Jon Wilkin, lecturer and business development manager in food innovation at Abertay University in Dundee, says: “In an industry such as pharmaceuticals, you will get companies spending around 50-60 per cent of their turnover on research and development.

“If you compare that to the food and drink industry in the UK as a whole, we have a £112 billion turnover but only £334m is used for research and development – around 0.4 per cent.

“Partly this is because we are something of an emerging industry, but investing money in innovation will pay dividends.”

Food and drink producers and manufacturers in Scotland have a world-class research base on their doorstep and many of them already use it fruitfully.

Working with food innovation departments at institutions such as Abertay University, Queen Margaret University, near Musselburgh, and Glasgow Caledonian University ensures a connection of skills and knowledge, which benefits the whole industry.

Innovation is not just found in product development, although modern twists on traditional ingredients can certainly produce the most eye-catching results.

Such products bring in consumers and open up new markets, but cutting-edge developments are present at every level of production in the industry.

These can add value and, across the board, teams are working on everything from resource efficiency and improving traceability and safety to smarter packaging and adding value to waste.

Wilkin says: “Knowledge exchange is the key to success and generally small companies come to [Abertay University] through companies like Interface or industry seminars and conferences.

“We can offer all sorts of help, from labelling, food safety, new product development.

“Some companies come to us with an issue, for instance their product won’t come out of its container, so we can improve the consistency.”

Wilkin says his department is helping firms across Scotland with a range of projects, from improving the texture in a beef jerky product for a manufacturer in Moray to understanding consumer behaviour in product development of seaweed in Ross and Cromarty.

New and improved processes can also streamline production and thus greatly enhance profits.

The Start-Up Drinks Lab, for example, was set up in 2017 as a contract bottler specialising in small batch soft drinks, ensuring craft soda ideas can be created without the cost risks associated with developing a new product.

And sometimes ideas emerge as a response to regulation. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations implementation, introduced in 2016, tightened restrictions on what could be flushed down drains.

The winner of the innovation category in the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards this year was a product which tackled the problem of waste peelings and starch in chip production.

Developed by Malcolm Wood of Ivan Wood & Sons in collaboration with Abertay University, the Peel Tech system works by taking the waste from the potato peeler, separating the waste skin and compacting the potato starch to allow it to be removed.

After successful trials at the company’s processing plant in Fife, a unit was developed for use in chip shops and is being rolled out across the UK.

Siobhan Jordan of Interface, who work on collaborations between industry and academia, says Peel Tech is a good example of how such relationships can be beneficial. She says: “The company involved had the idea but not the knowledge of how to design that piece of equipment.

“Further on, we worked with them on how they could repackage the captured starch to be a binding ingredient, so they have added two new income streams – in selling the waste product and the equipment itself.”

Organisations such as Interface can also help the industry access funding to develop projects.

Jordan says: “In some instances, the company have the ability to pay for a university’s research but there are a whole raft of funding mechanisms which will help build strategic partnerships.

“Such relationships can really drive a mindset change within the sector around innovation.”

Clustering companies is another innovation that can improve a business’s fortunes. Jordan gives the example of rapeseed oil producers, some of which Interface had worked with individually.

She says: “All were selling at artisan farmers’ markets although none were big enough to crack larger markets, but they did have ambitions to compete in the olive oil markets in Europe.

“We were able to identify a common need for evidence of benefits.

“A study from Aberdeen University on nutrition gave them that credibility and they were then able to form a co-operative and look to the international markets.”

She adds: “Some of the challenges are that companies don’t know what they don’t know.

“But universities can offer a lot more than product development, for instance consumer psychology and every aspect of a product from inception to branding, marketing and exporting.

“Research and development is absolutely the key to hitting 2030 targets.”

Recruiting the right people for the industry is, of course, also important for its success.

Young says: “Workforce upscaling is a big part, and many industries in Scotland will tell you that one of their priorities is to get more people in.

“We work with Skills Development Scotland to target school leavers and those moving from other industries into food and drink.

“For example, we have successfully attracted those leaving the oil industry because of the downturn, and there are comparable careers in food and drink.”

Wilkin agrees that there is a need to get the message out that the industry is crying out for graduates. “At Abertay we have a master’s in food and drink innovation which attracts graduates from diverse disciplines such as biological science or genetics.

“From here, there is a huge range of careers to access, from technical management, production management, new product development or as a buyer for supermarkets.

“It is an expanding industry and likely to continue to grow as a major employer in Scotland.”

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.

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With almost 70 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports heading to the European Union, the continued uncertainty over a post-Brexit trade deal is a huge concern.

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“Businesses are getting more frustrated as it’s been Groundhog Day for two years,” says James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink.

“The real fear is hitting March next year and still having little clarity on a future trading relationship.”

The entire industry has concerns about a no-deal hard Brexit, but with 96 per cent of its exports going to the EU, the red meat sector is particularly worried. ‘

“Of all World Trade Organisation tariffs, the most punitive are on agricultural products,” says Withers.

“The price of Scottish beef going into France could go up 50 per cent and it’s hard to see how we could be competitive.

“We’ve been locked out of EU markets before, such as during the foot-and-mouth crisis, which had a devastating impact.”

Stuart Ashworth, director of economic services at Quality Meat Scotland, says: “As trade with Europe is so important to the red meat sector, particularly sheep meat, unrestricted tariff-free access to the European market is a key concern.

“The worst-case scenario is a short notice exit with no trade arrangements in place.

“This would mean Scotland trading as a third country with the EU and having to pay tariffs on meat exports – and increased administrative and logistical costs.

“It would also leave the UK in a position where alternative trade agreements with non-EU countries would be very unlikely to be in place.”

Tom Sallis, deputy director (EU and Brexit) of the Scotch Whisky Association, also highlights concern about a no-deal scenario: “While there has been a political agreement between the UK and EU on the transition period to December 2020, this is only subject to the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement being finalised.

“We need to see this done as soon as possible. The last thing we want is companies getting to Christmas and still not knowing what’s going to happen in March 2019.” Sallis says the whisky industry’s priority is a relationship with the EU to support long-term economic success: “Whether this is a free trade agreement or something slightly different is not that important.

“It is the outcomes that matter – zero tariffs, continued alignment on regulations, minimal delays at borders.”

He accepts that Scotch whisky is well placed to cope with Brexit because of its broad range of markets: “Our exports are globally spread and consumers across the world will continue to love our product irrespective of how Brexit negotiations unfold.

“That said, because we are a global industry, it’s essential we maintain good access into EU and international markets – we need this to compete on fair terms with other spirits.”

Withers agrees: “The Scotch whisky industry could lose a key advantage – the ability to do unilateral trade deals – but it will not be badly affected by a customs union with tariff-free trade.

“Both whisky and seafood/salmon are international-looking markets. Seafood has a broader spread of markets than red meat but, because it’s so large, it’s vulnerable.

“If you run a fishing trawler, you want better access to UK waters, but how much are you going to be able to sell with tariffs added?

“The impact won’t be as bad as agricultural products but, in a competitive marketplace, it will cause difficulties.”

Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, says a hard Brexit would add a tariff of 2 per cent to fresh salmon, while any value-added products, including smoked salmon, would face tariffs of 13 per cent.

Like all other sectors, she highlights “frictionless trade” as being crucial to future success, although salmon is less exposed to EU markets (25 per cent of exports go there). “The issue is opportunity cost,” says Hesketh-Laird. “If you come out with no deal, it will become cheaper and more attractive for part of the processing industry to set up elsewhere.”

She accepts a 2 per cent tariff wouldn’t be a game-changer because fresh Scottish salmon attracts a premium price compared with salmon from elsewhere.

She does highlight potential border delays as a threat: “Salmon is a fresh product with a limited lifespan and cannot wait around at docks and airports.

“New border checks and delays would be a real challenge. What keeps me awake is the fear of having to implement new systems which will affect our members; contingency planning is tricky around those logistical issues given the lack of clarity.”

Joanna Fulton, a partner in legal firm Burness Paull and a member of its food and drink team, sees a lack of contingency planning across all industries, including food and drink.

“We are not receiving the amount of Brexit-related inquiries we expected,” she says.

“I think SMEs, which make up a large part of the food and drink sector, are waiting to see what happens – they don’t have the manpower or capacity to deal with an ever-changing landscape.”

Fulton says those who are planning are primarily focused on their future workforce and supply chains and Withers urges firms of all sizes to look at their vulnerability.

“How much of your business is either selling into or buying from the EU? Think about that while we wait for clarity.”

However, Withers feels the labour issue is no longer a major worry: “One-third of our workforce is EU nationals, from seasonal workers to people running big businesses.

“Future immigration policy remains a concern but that real negativity about how welcome EU nationals are in the UK has receded. Many workers feel more secure than they did, particularly in Scotland.”

Hesketh-Laird notes that many workers in high-end jobs in the salmon sector are EU nationals who have settled in Scotland and “these are not transient jobs”.

In terms of seasonal workers, fish processing, red meat slaughter and processing and soft fruit all depend on significant numbers and Withers says a formal arrangement is vital for these sectors: “We need a commitment to a seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme [allowing access to foreign workers for a specified period] and we have one on the shelf ready to go.

“Come autumn, when fruit and vegetable sector businesses are getting polytunnels ready for the harvest in spring and summer 2019, the scheme needs to be agreed.

“We hear, ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,’ but that doesn’t work in this context; we need a scheme now.”

Despite the challenges, Withers sees a bright future for a sector looking to double turnover to £30 billion by 2030. “Our long-term view is massively optimistic and positive. Scotland’s proposition is not cheap prices, it’s about premium quality and provenance – so we aren’t as vulnerable to smaller price shifts as other countries.

“Scotland is also developing a broader base of markets. In 2014, 80 per cent of exports went to Europe and that’s down to 67-68 per cent. Sales into China have tripled in just over a decade and we’re growing in North America and the Middle East.

“We want to do more business with Europe over time but reduce the percentage. That’s why we’ve put trade specialists around the world and we will release a new export plan near the end of 2018.”

Hesketh-Laird notes that Scottish salmon sales to China reached £70 million last year and sees enormous growth opportunities in both the Far East and US.

Back in the present, both Sallis and Ashworth are concerned that the post-Brexit transition period is too tight.

However, Withers calls for perspective: “Brexit is a hurdle we need to overcome but the future is more about consumer behaviour, markets and technology.

“We might look back from 2030 and see Brexit as one of the smaller changes we faced.”

A question of geography

“One consequence of producing a well-known product is that some people want to imitate it and sell fakes.

“Scotch Whisky’s status as a Geographical Indication makes it easier and quicker for us to take products off the market if they are clearly trying to dupe the consumer.

“GI status offers consumers more confidence that when they purchase Scotch Whisky, they are getting the real thing.”

Tom Sallis, Scotch Whisky Association.
“A growing concern is the position of protected food names and particularly the Protected Geographic Indications (PGI) of Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb in trade discussions and within any future UK brand identification protection policy.

“Any dilution of the protection offered by PGIs and recognition of these indications in the terms of trade both with the EU and globally would potentially lead to significant devaluing and protection of iconic brands.” 
Stuart Ashworth, Quality Meat Scotland.

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here

" ,"byline": {"email": "davidleemediaandevents@gmail.com" ,"author": "David Lee"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4784969.1534497934!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784969.1534497934!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4784969.1534497934!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/food-and-drink-change-on-the-menu-for-vital-industry-1-4784995","id":"1.4784995","articleHeadline": "Food and drink: Change on the menu for vital industry","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534510253000 ,"articleLead": "

Most of us eat and drink every day and sometimes it’s difficult to realise that such routine activity can make such a valuable contribution to the Scottish economy. In fact, it is an industry with a turnover of £14 billion.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784994.1534497663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The mix of global giants, iconic brands and microbusinesses in Scotland means our food and drink reaches all parts of the world. Exports last year were worth a remarkable £6bn.

It is not surprising, then, that the sector is held in the highest regard and that there are great expectations placed on it to grow still further.

The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership has set the target of increasing turnover in the sector to £30bn by 2030.

Its Ambition 2030 strategy charts growth based on three pillars: skills and people, the supply chain and innovation. In these pages, we look at how matters have progressed in these areas since our supplement last year.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, points to the importance of Scotland the brand and, as our articles on salmon and whisky illustrate, the international power of the Scottish label is mighty.

How the brand will fare in the next year as Brexit takes shape is one question we could not dodge.

There are illuminating insights from leaders across the sector, as well as a practical assessment of protecting individual brands by our trade mark specialist, Murgitroyd.

Brexit will also have an impact on our supply of overseas workers –such an important part of both the hospitality industry and seasonal farm work.

The challenge in recruiting employees with the proper skills is one that is being addressed through education and a determination to inject passion into the career choice.

Thinking about the supply chain, we turn to Zero Waste Scotland for its insight into how the sector is becoming more sustainable in its use of raw materials.

It all ties into the provenance story – more and more people really do care where their food and drink comes from and how it gets to their plate or glass.

With Ambition 2030’s emphasis on innovation and finding creative ways to grow markets, we’ve found some interesting ideas about where the latest technology might make its mark.

Who would have thought we’d be talking about blockchain and disruptive digital platforms in a food and drink supplement?

The Scotsman continues to fly the flag for Scotland’s food and drink and as we celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight next month, we host our annual industry conference. This year it is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 4 September.

Picking up on the Brexit theme, it will look at how to future-proof the industry – a question we also put to the sector in our Voices feature.

All this, I think, makes for interesting reading. I hope you agree.

Frank O’Donnell is editorial director of The Scotsman.

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here

" ,"byline": {"email": "frank.odonnell@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Frank O’Donnell"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4784994.1534497663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784994.1534497663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4784994.1534497663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/promoting-scotland-the-brand-critical-to-our-success-1-4784964","id":"1.4784964","articleHeadline": "PromotingScotlandthe brand critical 
 to our success","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534510197000 ,"articleLead": "

There are many reasons that Scottish food and drink has become a national success story. The collaboration between different parts of the industry and with the Scottish Government has been critical.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784962.1534497895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Coming together to create Scotland Food & Drink just over a decade ago has been a fundamental reason that the industry has gone from static growth to becoming the nation’s fastest growing major sector.

Of course, the fact we are home to a larder of world class products and talented producers means we’ve always had the ingredients for success. However, we’re now starting to unlock our full potential.

One of the most important drivers of change has been the creation of a national identity for our food and drink.

Scotland’s growing reputation at home and overseas as a Land of Food and Drink follows the similar, successful models in other small countries who have become players on the world stage.

Ireland and New Zealand have worked hard to create their own national reputations and Scotland is now reaping the rewards of that approach too.

As a result, we are no longer a country trying to kick-start growth in food and drink, but now one with an ambition to double the size of our sector to £30 billion by 2030.

So why do national brands matter? They are particularly powerful for countries like Scotland because we are selling more than simply our products.

We’re selling a story of provenance and authenticity, of heritage and innovation.

From trade shows in Tokyo, to showcases in Los Angeles, to food festivals in Wigtown, Scottish producers are telling a collective story which is far more powerful than anything they could tell on their own.

From our award-winning meat and seafood, to small-batch gin and craft beers, innovative bakeries and dairies, people now associate Scotland with quality and provenance.

Of course, there is more to do, particularly within our own shores.

As our tourism industry – driven forward by the work of the Scottish Tourism Alliance – embraces its ambition for the future, we must ensure quality, local food and drink sits at the heart of every visitor experience.

That strong home market for our food and drink producers will be the platform from which international ambitions can be realised.

Today, we have a global team of trade specialists in 13 cities around the world, funded by both industry and government money. A unique arrangement that works.

Our food exports are now 130 per cent higher than they were a decade ago with new relationships being developed in new markets every day.

The recently launched “Scotland Is Now” campaign, co-ordinated by Visit Scotland, is the next obvious step forward in building a national brand.

If delivered well, it should provide the vehicle to drive forward all of Scotland’s major industries, whether it be textiles, tourism or food and drink.

It can articulate the values we stand for and the quality we can deliver.

As our industry seeks to navigate the seemingly never-ending Brexit chaos, Scotland’s brand story will become even more important.

You may envisage a future of new barriers to the movement of goods or people.

Alternatively, you may see the opportunity of new export relationship beyond Europe or closer ties to customers at home.

In either scenario, promoting Scotland as the best place in the world to work and do business with will be critical to our success.

James Withers is chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink.

This article featured in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "James Withers"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4784962.1534497895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4784962.1534497895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4784962.1534497895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/food-and-drink-future-proofing-the-sector-1-4785227","id":"1.4785227","articleHeadline": "Food and drink: Future-proofing the sector","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534510180000 ,"articleLead": "

Access to labour and markets will be among the key issues discussed at the seventh Scotsman Food and Drink Conference as it explore ways that the £15 billion industry can continue to thrive after Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785225.1534509380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland’s leading food and drink experts will also address concerns regarding the ability of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to trade beyond Europe.

Between 150 and 200 delegates are expected to attend the day-long event entitled Beyond Brexit: Future-proofing Food and Drink in Scotland, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC).

The event will bring together key areas of Scotland’s food and drink sector, including premium producers of meat, fish and whisky, and innovative SMEs.

It will celebrate the nation’s innovation, collaboration, high quality and strong brand.

Chaired by its regular host Stephen Jardine, the event will be held for the first time at the EICC.

The morning session, Tapping into the Big Trends, will include crucial market insights from Andrew Niven of Scotland Food & Drink and Roz Cuschieri of Emily Crisps, with a focus on looking beyond Brexit at how Scotland’s food and drink brand can remain strong across the world.

Latest figures from the Scottish Government show that overseas exports were worth approximately £6bn last year, an increase of nearly £570 million on 2016.

That comes as positive news for the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s Ambition 2030 strategy, which aims to double the value of the industry in the next 12 years.

The second session of the day, entitled Future-proofing Food and Drink: Quality, Collaboration, Innovation, will involve a panel discussion with representatives from award-winning businesses who will explain how to deliver customer satisfaction.

It will include Adam Hunter, commercial manager of Scottish gin, vodka and whisky distiller Arbikie, which won the title of best Scottish spirit at last year’s Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.

He will be joined by Claire 
Pollock, partner at Ardross Farm Shop, which received the 2017 award for best use of Scottish produce.

Alongside other panellists, they will explain how they attracted customers as well as how to understand the marketplace, develop good-quality products and keep customers happy.

Three pillars of Scotland’s food and drink industry will be represented. Karen Betts of the Scotch Whisky Association, Jim McLaren of Quality Meat Scotland and Julie Hesketh-Laird of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, will discuss the challenges of Brexit and the prospect of tariffs on their respective industries.

The conference will be held ahead of the second Scotsman Food and Drink Awards at the same venue that evening.

This article appeared in The Scotsman’s Food & Drink special. A digital version can be viewed here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "sarah.devine@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Sarah Devine"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785225.1534509380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785225.1534509380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785225.1534509380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/start-ups-rebooting-the-food-and-drink-scene-in-inverclyde-1-4785664","id":"1.4785664","articleHeadline": "Start-ups rebooting the food and drink scene in Inverclyde","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534503865865 ,"articleLead": "Ambitious plans for an £1.8m incubator are set to put Inverclyde on the food and drink map. Sarah Devine reports","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785662.1534495923!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The 1.8 million revamp will create a new food and drink hub in Scotland."} ,"articleBody": "

Once the gateway for the finest ingredients, Inverclyde is once again set to be recognised for its food and drink industry thanks to the £1.8 million development of Scotland’s first incubator dedicated to the sector.

The Greenock-based Baker Street Food & Drink Enterprises is a unique hub that aims to put Inverclyde back on Scotland’s food and drink map by attracting new and small businesses to guide them through their expansion.

As Inverclyde is currently ranked 28th out of the 32 Scottish councils in terms of food and drink production, Riverside Inverclyde’s (RI) head of business investment and operations Andrew Bowman believes “the only way is up”.

The West of Scotland was once a bustling area renowned for its shipbuilding, fishing villages and harbours, through which the finest ingredients from across Scotland and the world would move.

Bowman says: “Back in the day, we used to be famous for our food and drink here in Inverclyde, particularly in Greenock with all the sugar coming in from the Caribbean and the amount of importing and exporting going on.”

In recent years, however, small businesses have been faced with financial barriers from having to invest in the refurbishment of empty industrial spaces, preventing new projects from taking off.

“We would have interest from food and drinks companies coming into the area, but they did not have the capital required or want to put that kind of investment into a building that they were only going to be leasing for a short period of time, which is understandable.”

Consequently, Riverside Inverclyde wanted to create something unique and pioneering that would generate a continuous flow of new firms and allow Inverclyde a second chance at success in the food and drink sector.

Until two years ago Bowman held the role of strategic executive assistant to the managing director of Zurich Insurance Group’s public arm in London, but jumped at the opportunity to return to his hometown to head up the business investment team with regeneration expert, Riverside Inverclyde.

“Attracting new businesses while stimulating growth within the existing business community is an exciting challenge,” says Bowman.

The hub, due to be completed next June, will include six manufacturing units of between 350 and 750 square feet, each with a dedicated kitchen area.

Shared office space, boardroom and storage for raw or finished products are also available.

It is hoped that the spaces will lead to collaboration between the businesses to create new ideas and to help each other learn and grow.

What makes the hub pioneering is a food and drink growth accelerator programme of which the companies will be part.

There will be funding support towards SALSA (safe and local supplier approval) accreditation and grants will be available for equipment and machinery from Inverclyde Council.

Bowman explains: “It is a package to try and get those individuals that are maybe doing the farmers’ market scene or see food as a side job to what they do currently and just need that little bit of support and confidence to grow their dream into a reality.”

Small food and drink businesses will occupy the space for two to three years and from there, move into a larger space within RI’s portfolio where support will be provided to find staff and apprentices, as well as funding.

It all comes as part of a £3.5m regeneration project to improve a famous area of Greenock, known as Baker’s Brae.

While Bowman acknowledges that there were more straight-forward sites to base the hub, regeneration is at its core, with half of Baker Street’s funding coming from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. The other half includes more than £600,000 from RI – as well as £300,000 from Inverclyde Council.

Inspiration came largely from Northern Ireland’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), which contains a food business incubation centre.

It has eight food processing units to facilitate entrepreneurs and already established food businesses wanting to develop and test new ideas.

Bowman says: “It is about 20 years old now and it enabled us to learn from their experiences and understand if there is anything they would do differently, what the market has told them, where have their successes and challenges been.

“From that we were able to sculpt our own version and we can’t thank CAFRE enough.”

The team also visited economic development agency Opportunity North East in Aberdeen to find out more about growth and sustainability.

It is not just through Baker Street that RI is rebuilding Inverclyde’s reputation for food and drink innovation.

The organisation launched Taste Inverclyde in December and it is already engaging with more than 100 businesses, having been established as the regional tool for supporting restaurants, bars and cafés, among other food businesses.

It also aims to add to the 700,000 visitors the area welcomes each year, including 150,000 coming from the cruise liners that arrive in Greenock.

One of the ways it has been doing that is through the launch of the area’s first food and drink guide, as well as a trail that is available on its website.

The project organisers have also launched the Taste Tent, where producers from in and around Inverclyde can showcase their goods at events including Gourock Highland Games and Scotland’s Boat Show in Inverkip.

Bowman says: “Once Baker Street is in place, I think that there will be a really unique offering in Inverclyde compared to other areas and it should lead to further opportunities for growth. We have been able to attract four new food and drink-based businesses now in Inverclyde before Baker Street is operational, and I think that the focus with Taste Inverclyde is beginning to equate to growth.

“Ultimately we have achieved what we set out to achieve, we are seeing an increase in manufacturing which in turn creates more jobs for Inverclyde within the sector.”

The organisation is working closely with the West College Scotland,

Glasgow Caledonian University, Edinburgh University, the Knowledge Transfer Network and Opportunity North East to pilot a best practice educational support for businesses.

Bowman adds: “Scotland Food & Drink has been a huge support for us as well through networking and putting us in touch with the right companies and individuals to find the right development.

“Our aim is to take us into the top 25 local regions [for food and drink production] by 2022 and that is in reality what has inspired the Baker Street hub to be built.”

Baker Street Food & Drink Enterprises

- Location: 28 Baker Street, Greenock

- Cost to develop: £1.8 million

- Part of a wider £3.5m regeneration of area by Riverside Inverclyde

- Six food manufacturing units

- Units from 350sq ft to 750sq ft plus shared office space

- On-site parking and security

- Due to open: June 2019

- Business growth programme to support the hub’s businesses

The Start-up Drinks Lab

An Inverclyde contract manufacturer of craft sodas is one step closer to shaking up Scotland’s soft drinks industry after receiving more than £75,000 from the Scottish EDGE Fund.

When Craig Strachan and Hannah Fisher decided to launch their own soft drinks brands they could not have imagined the lack of manufacturing services in Scotland available to small-batch drinks producers.

Strachan found challenges in finding bottling contractors that take orders small enough to suit his business model for Foal Drinks that would allow the business to be sustainable.

Fisher, who has 11 years’ experience in innovation and branding roles for spirits and beer producers, was finding a similar challenge when launching her brand Tongue in Peat.

Through Scottish Enterprise, the pair collaborated and founded the Start-Up Drinks Lab to support businesses at each stage of their journey.

They are renting units in Port Glasgow owned by urban regeneration company Riverside Inverclyde.

Strachan, a chartered accountant, says: “We want to be the go-to place if you have an idea for a new drinks brand and we can now help with everything right from the conception and ideas stage.

“That could be coming up with a brand name or any of the other marketing or branding activities and then moving on to product development.”

The team of six has strong manufacturing experience and includes expert food scientists who work with clients at different stages of the production process, from those who have just an idea or quirky take on an existing drink to larger SMEs who require only bottling.

Strachan says: “Clients will tell us all about the flavours they want, the levels of sugar, the calorific value and the colour of their drink.

“That would take anywhere between six and ten weeks to be finalised.

“Once we have that, we review the manufacturing recipe and we can give a price for the bottling of the product.”

The company offers a minimum order quantity of 500 litres, which equates to around 2,500 bottles, unlike most competitors in Scotland which start at 20,000 litres, according to Strachan.

The company has been funded by Scotmid Co-operative, the Scottish Government’s start-up loan scheme and Inverclyde Council and is looking to expand into distribution with an e-shop for artisan craft soda.

Strachan and Fisher also aim to have created 15 jobs at the company by 2021.

Strachan says: “The original concept was to be a manufacturer for small-batch craft soda.

“This absolutely will be and continues to remain at the heart of everything we do, but with our compounding license we can now also help alcohol brand owners get started.

“We want to be the solution for small-batch bottling.”

For more information, visit http://www.riversideinverclyde.com/

This article is taken from The Scotsman's Annual Food & Drink Supplement which can be read in full here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "voicelocal@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Sarah Devine"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785662.1534495923!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785662.1534495923!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The 1.8 million revamp will create a new food and drink hub in Scotland.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The 1.8 million revamp will create a new food and drink hub in Scotland.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785662.1534495923!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785663.1534495924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785663.1534495924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The hub will be home for unique food and drink businesses.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The hub will be home for unique food and drink businesses.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785663.1534495924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/scottish-salmon-proving-export-success-around-the-world-1-4785718","id":"1.4785718","articleHeadline": "Scottish salmon proving export success around the world","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534503136621 ,"articleLead": "Kirsty McLuckie on the burgeoning global appetite for Scottish salmon – and why farmers are frustrated that demand continues to exceed supply for this premium product in an industry that still offers huge potential","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785779.1534503190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish salmon is renowned worldwide."} ,"articleBody": "

From Japanese sashimi houses to the most upmarket Parisian eateries, from the cool of the fast-moving New York restaurant scene to the glamour of Middle East high-end hotels, Scottish salmon at the top of the seafood stakes.

It is seen as such a premium product that the markets where demand is growing indicate which countries’ fortunes are on the up, as sales reflect the rise of the middle classes with disposable income in emerging economies.

The farmed Atlantic salmon industry is comparatively new, created in the last 40 years, but it has huge potential.

The actual logistics of how salmon get from sea to plate is impressive, but along the way there are clues as to how the industry became one of Scotland’s success stories.

Salmon farms are dotted around the west coast and in Orkney and Shetland. They are major employers in the areas in which they operate, which is particularly important in these economically fragile communities.

Wester Ross Fisheries, which has three fish farms in Loch Broom, Little Loch Broom and Loch Kannaird, is a case in point.

Managing director Gilpin Bradley says: “We have been the largest private sector employer in Ullapool for the last 35 years. That is important because the Highlands have 58 per cent working for the public sector, so private sector jobs are scarce.”

The salmon, reared in freshwater for the first year of their lives and then in seawater for 18 months to two years, are first loaded live from the farms on to wellboats, containing large vats of water. You could say that, as a result, the salmon swim ashore.

Wellboats are equipped with cameras in tanks to monitor salmon behaviour and stress levels, and the water temperature is regulated to help keep the fish calm.

Each farm will have its own processing centre which again, because of the location, can be an important employer.

Wester Ross Fisheries’ salmon are processed at Dingwall, while Marine Harvest Scotland, which employs 1,000 people in Scotland, has a processing centre in Fort William.

Scottish Sea Farms, another major employer, sends salmon from its farms on the west coast to South Shian, near Oban, while its Orkney and Shetland-raised salmon goes to Scalloway on mainland Shetland.

At the processing sites, the fish are stunned and humanely killed, gutted and cleaned, packed in ice and loaded whole into polystyrene leak-proof containers, holding 22 to 25 kilograms.

They are labelled and will remain in this container for the whole journey, ensuring a traceable supply chain from the pen to plate, something terrestrial farming cannot guarantee.

Georgina Wright, head of sales at Marine Harvest Scotland, says that is not the only advantage the industry has over farming on land: “We are in charge of the whole value chain – farming, processing and selling to the end user – which means that we have the ultimate control on quality.”

The salmon is graded at this stage, as some will have been raised to even higher standards, to merit the Label Rouge accreditation, a sign of quality.

Celine Kimpflin, head of exports for Scottish Sea Farms, explains: “Label Rouge is a French denomination and Scotland was the first non-French country to achieve the label, which it received for its salmon.

“There are rules about density, feeding and welfare and only the very best fish get the label and a unique number for every single salmon.”

She says the market for these premium products is mainly across Europe – “in France, of course, but also Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain. It is a very small market, like organic, but it is high-quality and high-value.”

Any producer can work towards the label and most salmon producers in Scotland will have a share of the niche market.

The other salmon are graded in size, from two to more than nine kilos, as market demands differ around the world.

Larger salmon are sent to the sashimi chefs in Japan and China, while the European market prefers smaller fish with a uniformity of size to help portion control in restaurants.

As you would expect, the journey from here relies on speed to guarantee freshness. Wright says: “The fish go from farm to airport in 24 hours and can be on the table anywhere in the world within two to three days.”

The main distribution centre for the salmon industry is in Larkhall in Lanarkshire, and from here most of the containers are loaded on to lorries to head for Heathrow.

The industry would prefer to be able to operate more routes out of Scottish airports, but as yet the chilled facilities aren’t good enough to take the growth in exports.

Kimpflin says: “We are lobbying for better facilities at Scottish airports.

“As the Norwegians and Faroese go through Heathrow too, in times where there is high demand we are restricted.”

One route that has recently opened up out of Scotland is to Beijing, in China, and Wright says: “It opened in June this year and we are hoping long term it will make a big difference.

“China is a growing market. The first exports went there in 2011 and the market has grown year on year and potential is huge.”

It is this aspect of salmon exports that is perhaps the most fascinating – spotting potential in the market and pursuing it.

Marine Harvest Scotland exports to 11 destinations in China. Wright says: “Shanghai itself has a population of 25 million but it is also about per capita consumption too.

“The single largest buyers of salmon in the world are the US but in terms of their consumption of seafood it is low, so the long-term opportunity is high.

“France and Spain are the largest fish eaters in Europe but emerging markets like China, Asia and South Africa have growth potential.”

Around the globe, Scottish salmon has a reputation above that of Norway and Canada, but Scotland still has only 8 per cent of the market.

Kimpflin agrees that the growth markets are China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan but says exporters need to be aware of politics. “Diplomatic issues between China and Norway, for example, gave Scotland an advantage for a while. Keeping an eye on the geopolitical situation and how that will affect trade routes – the relationship between Taiwan and China, for example – is one of the most interesting aspects of the job.”

Norway is the main rival of Scottish salmon and the country that dictates the market. It produces 1.2m tonnes of salmon compared with about 170,000 tonnes from Scotland. Competition also comes from the Faroes and Canada. The latter has cheap transport rates and so is targeting the Far East.

However, the advantage Scottish salmon has is its quality reputation, and growth is about building on the brand. Kimpflin says: “We do command a premium over Norwegian and it is usually a big gap, so it is worth protecting.”

Bradley says: “Scotland’s salmon farmers are ambitious and want to grow, and the frustration we all have is that we can’t meet the demand for the product, which outstrips supply.

“We understand the need for a regulatory framework but salmon farmers’ number one concern is looking after the environment in which they work. Their livelihood depends on it, and keeping the sea pristine will safeguard our future livelihood.

“More than half of the world’s seafood is farmed and the value of Scottish salmon is already worth more than the whole of the UK fishing industry.”

‘You can’t have great cuisine without great products’

French master chef Matthieu Garrel is a huge fan of Scottish salmon. He says: “You can’t have great cuisine without great products. This Label Rouge Scottish salmon reminds me of those we used to eat at home 15 or 20 years ago, when salmon was a rare treat, only served on special occasions.

“You can see and you can smell that it is a fish produced with care – its delicate colour, pleasant texture and subtle aroma of the sea are just like those of salmon in the good old days.

“It retains all its juices when cooked and that is a sign of top-quality fish.”

The Breton, pictured, who runs his own restaurant in Paris, has huge experience in the trade. After gaining qualifications in catering, Garrel left for England, working first in a three-star London restaurant and then in the first English Relais et Chateaux-approved establishment.

This early adventure, as well as improving his English language skills, taught him the importance of attention to detail, high standards and teamwork.

After his military service, Garrel returned to Brittany to work with Jean-Pierre Crouzil in Plancoet. In 1994 he moved to Paris to work with Gerard Besson, one of the “best artisan chefs in France”, then at Potel & Chabot and the Pays de l’Est restaurants, where he received training in management and cost control.

In 1996, Besson invited him back as chef de cuisine at Yachts de Paris. With this added experience, he felt ready to start up his own business.

He opened Le Bélisaire in the 15th arrondissement in 2001. His philosophy was to offer high-quality, bistro-style cuisine, based on technical precision, creativity and authentic products – all at the best possible price. It paid off.

Glowing reviews from customers and in good food guides bear testament to his talent, which was also acknowledged by his peers and culminated in him being elevated to Master Chef of France status in 2014.

For more information, visit http://scottishsalmon.co.uk

This article is taken from The Scotsman's Annual Food & Drink Supplement which can be read in full here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "voicelocal@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Kirsty McLuckie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785779.1534503190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785779.1534503190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish salmon is renowned worldwide.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish salmon is renowned worldwide.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785779.1534503190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785717.1534498568!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785717.1534498568!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chef Matthieu Garrel is a big fan of Scottish salmon.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chef Matthieu Garrel is a big fan of Scottish salmon.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785717.1534498568!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/scotch-export-experts-ready-to-ride-out-the-brexit-storm-1-4785667","id":"1.4785667","articleHeadline": "Scotch export experts ready to ride out the Brexit storm","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534502748407 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s whisky distillers are ready for the short-term disruption of Brexit, believes Karen Betts. Sandra Dick reports

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785665.1534502988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Last year, 39 bottles of Scotch were exported every second."} ,"articleBody": "

Cereals, yeast and water. Just three ingredients but add in a massive dollop of heritage and centuries of craft and care, and you have a whisky cocktail that’s a global success story.

There is, of course, much more to whisky than just that. For a start, the hard work of thousands of people across the country and shrewd marketing and export skills are vital mixers for a spirit that finds its way into glasses from Tokyo to Mumbai, Sao Paulo to Addis Ababa.

Step into just about any bar in any country in the world – a smoky parrilla bar in Uruguay, a swanky New York cocktail haven, a Japanese karaoke bar or beach bar in Goa – and there’s a good chance you’ll be raising a dram and savouring that familiar, warming glow that can only really come courtesy of Scotch.

With 500 years of history behind it and with each distillery offering its own unique take on how to distil and nurture perfectly those three ingredients, the world has developed a taste for our national drink.

“One of the wonderful things about Scotch is that you can go to the other side of the world, to somewhere remote, and meet someone who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Scotch,” says Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, which has supported the industry for more than 100 years.

“I am always impressed by the amount that many people from places a very long way away know about Scotch.

“People often spend a long time telling me about which distillery is their favourite and why.

“For some, Scotch is an almost religious experience.”

Throughout 150 years of export success, Scotch has carefully distilled its own unique worldwide success story to make it Scotland’s biggest food and drink export success.

Last year alone, the equivalent of 39 bottles were exported every second; 1.2 billion bottles in all – a 1.7 per cent increase in volume on the previous year – to 180 markets in all four corners of the globe.

Scotch Whisky now accounts for 70 per cent of all Scottish food and drink exports and 20 per cent of the UK’s, with exports valued at £4.37bn in 2017 – an 8.9 per cent rise in value on 2016 – and with massive potential to drive further exports to emerging markets in India, China and Africa.

While the temptation might be simply to sit back and toast such impressive success, the industry is instead driving forward with significant investment in distilleries, products and marketing – interestingly, at a time when Brexit uncertainty is causing many others to sit tight and wait for the storm to pass.

New distilleries are springing up – 130 in all, 15 of them in the past five years.

And despite the rising challenge of international whisky producers, the Scottish whisky industry would appear to remain unshaken and relatively unstirred.

“This export success has been hard won, and has taken 150 years to achieve,” says Betts, who joined the SWA after a 16-year career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office which included a stint as British ambassador to Morocco.

“The endeavours of Tommy Dewar, James Buchanan, James Chivas and others in the 19th century took Scotch Whisky from local spirit – enjoyed by many in Britain but Scotch at that stage was by no means dominant elsewhere – to global superstar.

“That entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well today, with the SWA’s

70 member companies constantly beating back barriers to trade in established markets and seeking out new markets to enable Scotch to thrive for another five centuries.”

Of course, there’s no escaping the “B” word. Brexit, and the risk of US trade wars, send a shiver down the spine of most exporters.

The sector’s 150-year long export success story, says Betts, is key to weathering whatever storms may lie ahead.

“We are expert traders, and we try to look at Brexit in that context,” she insists.

“That’s not to say that we won’t suffer some disruption, but our companies are reasonably flexible and know how to export to Europe, countries that the EU has trade agreements with, or to other parts of the world where no trade agreements exist, like India.

“Brexit will no doubt have its challenges – 30 per cent of our exports go to Europe – but we expect to be able to work through them.”

While the Brexit clock ticks, a new EU-trade deal with Japan signed last month, means Scotch distillers stand to benefit from further access to a flourishing market that hit £82m last year, as well as enjoying new legal protection for their “whisky” name and heritage.

The risk of trade wars, and the use of whisky as a political weapon, however, raises a host of other issues.

What Scotch might gain from China’s 25 per cent tariff on American whiskeys, it could well lose as a result of the EU’s decision to impose a similar bourbon tariff.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed her concern that the situation could erupt into a “full-blown trade war” and has spoken of the situation’s “seriousness” for the whisky sector.

“Going into trade restrictions with any overseas market would have implications for the Scotch Whisky industry,” says Betts.

“However, our raison d’etre as an organisation is to try to overcome trade barriers around the world.

“Every day we work to level the playing field and give our companies as competitive an environment as possible in each of our overseas markets.

“We have urged the UK government and the European Commission to keep negotiating with the US and to de-escalate the current dispute.”

Staying ahead of the game, identifying emerging markets – where thriving economies are creating a new “middle class” of consumer seeking a luxury product – and developing existing market through shrewd marketing, have long been the key to the industry’s export success, she adds.

“Companies invest an enormous amount of time and energy understanding their markets and what attracts consumers to Scotch and why.

“So in Japan marketing is around hi-ball cocktails (Scotch and soda), in Spain it’s popular with Coke and it’s Scotch on the rocks in America.

“Companies’ deep understanding from inside out is what makes a good Scotch market.”

Meantime, the industry has forged ahead, retaining that same entrepreneurial spirit that has written Scotch whisky’s international success story.

Without losing the innate heritage and provenance, Scotch Whisky producers are using new technology to take Scotland’s national drink into the digital age, becoming more environmentally sustainable and increasingly using by-products to fuel production.

“Robotics are now helping to reduce the heavy lifting required in cooperages, QR codes now help us track product from grain to glass.

“Everywhere the industry looks to the future and at embracing innovation,” she adds.

“There are challenges to overcome. The spirit laid down the day UK voted to leave the EU will not be Scotch until next year, and by the time it is bottled it could emerge into a market with rules that are quite different to the ones we have operated within for the last 40 plus years.

“If we are to crack the big markets of tomorrow, we need to invest here at home. Scotch is just 1 per cent of the Indian spirits market and only 0.1 per cent of the Chinese.

“If Scotch’s share of these markets were to grow even to 5 per cent, then that would represent a massive expansion in exports and these markets would the rival the US and France.

“A nice problem to have. Although to service these markets, the boom in new distilleries and the expansion of existing ones that we have seen over the last five years, we also need a competitive home market.

“The tax burden on the average priced bottle of Scotch here in the UK is 74 per cent; £3 in every £4 spent on Scotch goes directly to the Treasury.

“This does not help new distilleries start-up, nor existing ones scale-up; in fact, it’s a barrier to their success.

“So we are calling on the Chancellor to support the industry and those whose livelihoods it supports in the autumn budget. After all, it’s a tremendous global success story.”

Spirited market

- Scotch Whisky accounts for 70 per cent of all Scottish food and drink exports, and 20 per cent of the UK’s.

- It supports 40,000 jobs.

- Exports are valued at £4.37 billion in 2017, presenting an 8.9 per cent rise in value on 2016 figures.

- Scotch was exported to 180 markets last year – the product earns the UK £127 every second.

- In total, 1.2bn bottles were exported, with volume up almost 5 per cent.

Almost 39 bottles are exported every second. The growing Chinese market sees 25 bottles of Scotch exported every minute.

For more information, visit http://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk

This article is taken from The Scotsman's Annual Food & Drink Supplement which can be read in full here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "voicelocal@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Sandra Dick"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785665.1534502988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785665.1534502988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Last year, 39 bottles of Scotch were exported every second.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Last year, 39 bottles of Scotch were exported every second.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785665.1534502988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4785767.1534502990!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785767.1534502990!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4785767.1534502990!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/is-your-food-business-at-risk-of-being-disrupted-by-an-online-platform-1-4785647","id":"1.4785647","articleHeadline": "Is your food business at risk of being disrupted by an online platform?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534502214859 ,"articleLead": "Brian Mooney looks at how the food and drink sector can take advantage of online opportunities","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4785645.1534495901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Are platforms the future of the food and drink industry?"} ,"articleBody": "

Online businesses such as Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber are part of our everyday lives and a big part of the global economy in terms of consumer spend and stock market value.

These businesses have grown rapidly by attracting millions of users and thousands of suppliers to provide goods or services to the users. This type of business is known as a “platform”.

A platform is an online business that facilitates a transaction between two third parties.

The platform provides the marketplace and functionality to perform the trade but does not own the inventory or assets involved.

For example, Uber is the world’s largest taxi platform but owns no taxis; Airbnb is the largest hospitality platform but owns no hotels; Alibaba is the largest merchant platform but has no stock.

At AAB Consulting, we have seen platforms upturn conventional business wisdom: rather than build assets, acquire customers and sell them things the company makes, platforms attract buyers and third-party sellers of goods and services, facilitate transactions between them on the platform and monetise the activity either through fees for advertising or sales commission.

The key to a platform’s success is “network effect” – a virtuous growth cycle where more suppliers attract more buyers, which in turn attracts more suppliers and so on.

As a result, the platform develops scale and power. This can result in suppliers becoming dependent on the platform unless they have a high level of independent differentiation and customer loyalty.

The platform gains further advantage by collecting data on transactions that enable it to introduce new user services such as product recommendations, and new supplier services like dynamic pricing (for example Uber’s “surge prices”) that further incentivise the use of the platform by both sides.

Platforms increase choice for consumers by introducing new supply to the market that did not exist before, like Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts. The platform disrupts conventional advantages based on local captive market or lack of price visibility.

There are several levels of platforms:

- Level 1 platforms are e-commerce marketplaces similar to consumer websites like eBay. Participation involves listing goods for sale. There is limited technology integration with the third-party suppliers.

- Level 2 platforms link supply and demand for specific services, for example, the sharing of agricultural machinery. The platform provides visibility and quality assurance.

- Level 3 platforms are true “big data” platforms involving third-party applications running on the platform. For example, MyJohnDeere collects data via sensors on John Deere equipment and integrates with other agriculture software applications. As a result, the platform develops intelligence about farm operations that can be used to reduce costs and improve yield.

Platforms are emerging in many sectors of the food and drink industry, including:

- Agronomex is an online fruit and veg platform. Pricing is by auction or fixed price using a “buy now” feature.

- Sellmylivestock has more than 20,000 registered UK farmers. It offers sales of cattle, pigs and sheep for breeding, growing or store.

- Graindex trades grain including wheat, oats, barley, peas, beans and oilseed rape. Trading is both futures and ex-farm.

- Procsea is a fish trading platform. Information on fishing zones, ports, techniques and quality is displayed for each listing. Procsea arranges collection, customs and delivery through approved transporters.

- Yumbles and Yumbles Trade are for artisan food and drink. They offer independent small-batch artisan producers opportunities to sell direct to consumer or to retailers and restaurants.

- Farm-r is a platform for farm machinery sharing, enabling farmers to rent their equipment to other farmers when it is idle.

- FarmPay is a farmer-to-farmer payment platform for livestock trading. It uses escrow accounts to hold payment securely until buyers and sellers complete the transaction. FarmPay aims to become a full supply chain management platform using “big data” to tackle inefficiencies in livestock chains and improve market signal from consumer all the way back to breeder and finisher.

There are implications for food and drink businesses and these include:

- Platforms offer a new route to market and an opportunity to increase sales. However, as with any distribution channel, there is a price to pay in the form of listing fees and platform commissions that can reduce profit margin, not to mention the running costs of maintaining presence on the platform.

- Platforms offer an alternative to traditional intermediaries such as wholesalers and physical auction markets. The commercial activities of most producers are designed around these channels and relationships, so moving to a platform requires new processes and skills, such as online marketing, to use the new channel effectively.

- If most sales are on one platform, there is a risk of platform dependence where small changes to trading rules, commission levels or algorithms can result in big and sudden changes to volumes and margins. It pays to spread business across more than one platform and maintain traditional channels.

- Maintaining strong product differentiation and brand is also key to ensuring a balance of power between platform and supplier. Scotland Food & Drink has placed product quality and branding at the heart of its industry growth strategy and this will become even more important as trade moves onto platforms.

Platforms provide new digital tools for practices that have always existed in the industry, such as sharing equipment, selling goods at auction and advertising. The benefit of platforms is that they open up capacity beyond the local market, and can lead to much more efficient supply chains using big data.

At the same time, Scottish food and drink businesses must consider the risk of being disrupted by platforms and develop platform innovation and participation strategies to manage this risk, including establishing platforms of their own, pricing and data policies, and ongoing product differentiation and brand strategies to prevent commoditisation.

Brian Mooney is a director at Anderson Anderson & Brown Consulting.

Scottish Seafood activity

Scotland Food & Drink Ambition 2030 aims to double the value of the industry to £30 billion by 2030 and the seafood sector has a key part to play in delivering that growth, writes Derek Mair.

The Scottish seafood sector is enjoying a period of sustained growth and as a result we have experienced an increase in merger and acquisition activity and investment from overseas players looking to establish a presence in Scotland.

Examples of this are the £98.4 million acquisition of Macduff Shellfish Group, one of Europe’s leading wild caught shellfish processors, by Canadian business Clearwater Seafoods and Estonian-based PR Foods’ £13m acquisition of John Ross Jr, a traditional smoked salmon business.

Despite the political and economic uncertainty that Brexit brings, we believe this trend will continue as overseas investors look to secure future supply of premium Scottish seafood.

If you are considering selling your business, here are some tips to ensure a successful outcome:

- Engage professional advisers – those who know the sector can maximise value through creating competitive tension and allowing the management team to focus on running the business.

- Do your diligence on the purchaser – it is important to get comfort on the buyer’s ability to deliver what it says it will.

- Ensure information provided is accurate – the buyer will use the information provided as a basis for its offer.

- Don’t succumb to the purchaser’s charm – it is important to maintain an

arm’s-length relationship with the buyer until the deal has completed.

n Deal with potential problems early – it can be too easy to ignore them and hope they go away rather than deal with them as they arise.

- Consider the most efficient tax structure – most buyers are flexible when structuring a deal to ensure that the vendor can take advantage of any tax benefits.

- Avoid deal fatigue – to ensure that the transaction is completed within a reasonable timescale, ask the purchaser to produce a timetable detailing all key stages of the process up to completion.

Derek Mair is partner and head of food and drink at AAB.

Crowdfunding: is it lunacy?

Stand: Alistair Duncan on how to avoid the pitfalls of aiming for the Moon

Copy: When looking to grow in line with Scotland Food & Drink’s ambitious “£30 billion by 2030” vision, crowdfunding is fast becoming the go-to solution for Scottish food and drink businesses.

As well as producers, even restaurants and bars are getting into the crowdfunding game, raising funds for expansions or refurbishments in return for merchandise and future meals.

With some food and drink businesses being less attractive for traditional investors, crowdfunding is seen as a lower risk option.

And following BrewDog’s success, surely there is no downside?

That was what Lunar Missions thought. It launched a crowdfunding appeal for £600,000 to send a robot to drill into the surface of the Moon to collect scientific

data.

In return for a minimum payment of £60, the investor received the promise of digital or physical space in a time capsule that was to be buried on the Moon.

The physical space was enough to include a strand of hair and the digital space could be used to upload photographs or recordings.

HM Revenue and Customs argued that the payments received were liable to VAT, resulting in Lunar Missions having a liability to register and account for the VAT on the pledges.

In Lunar Missions Limited v HMRC [2018] TC06286, the first-tier tribunal dismissed Lunar Mission’s appeal and found that VAT was due on payment of the pledge.

Although the principles in Lunar Missions were unusual, these also apply to food and drink crowdfunding appeals.

If the investor receives something tangible – for example, the promise of a presentation bottle of the first run of a new spirit, attendance at a “tasting experience” at a restaurant or simply a discount card for a bar – this will be a supply for VAT purposes and VAT will be due when you receive payment.

However, if the investor is offered a choice of rewards for their pledge, this may qualify as the issue of a multi-purpose voucher, with VAT only being due on redemption of the voucher.

Furthermore, pledges where nothing more tangible than a regular update on the project or acknowledgment of the pledge is received can be treated as donations.

In my opinion, there are clearly many issues to consider when looking at crowdfunding and, given the experience of Lunar Missions, it is important that VAT is not forgotten.


Alistair Duncan is indirect tax director at AAB.

For more information, visit www.aab.co.uk

This article is taken from The Scotsman's Annual Food & Drink Supplement which can be read in full here.

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