Adam Hardie celebrates Scotland’s larder

After an incredibly challenging year the opening of Bonnie & Wild’s Scottish marketplace is cause for celebration, representing all that is outstanding about the Scottish food and drink sector.

Both wholesalers will enter the retail market for the first time at the ambitious Bonnie & Wild food hall
Both wholesalers will enter the retail market for the first time at the ambitious Bonnie & Wild food hall

The St James Quarter food hall is the first of its kind north of the Border and features a carefully curated mix of dining and retail outlets, creating around 100 jobs and offering high quality, sustainably sourced food and drink.

With seating for more than 360 guests and a footprint of 16,700 square feet, it showcases 12 diverse businesses including eight independent restaurants run by some of the hospitality sector’s leading figures. Among them are Masterchef winner Gary Maclean whose Creel Caught seafood outlet is his first solo venture, and Chix, a new upmarket fried chicken business co-founded by Ed Cresswell, a former Chef de Partie at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck.

Joining them are Glasgow institutions The Gannet and Salt And Chilli Oriental, from TV chef and Lychee Oriental operator Jimmy Lee, who are making their debuts in the East.

Visitors can also browse through a carefully curated selection of speciality retailers, while three bars are available to slake their thirst. A private dining area, demonstration kitchen and events space will enable everything from pop-ups to food festivals to take place and create a remarkable venue for businesses to host networking events.

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The management team’s passion for provenance and traceability will underline the relationship between land, producer and consumer, and highlight the unique nature of Scotland’s Larder, which remains sought after around the world.

It really is best in class and as advisers to Bonnie & Wild, I am incredibly proud that we have been involved from the inception of the project, promoting B&W across our network of clients and contacts, whilst also providing support and expertise on accountancy and tax compliance and advising on specialist tax matters.

Its launch is even more impressive when considered against the backdrop of the pandemic, which has hit hospitality harder than any other sector. The business has had to be extremely fleet of foot to overcome obstacles ranging from construction closures to trading restrictions on would-be tenants, and loss of staff to other industries.

These harsh conditions have been make-or-break for the sector, and the food and drink businesses which have come out on the other side are leaner and in many respects sharper as a result of the tough decisions they’ve had to make. If there is one positive consequence of the last 18 months, it’s that it has forced companies to focus on cashflow and consider how best to diversify.

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MacDuff 1890, located in Bonnie & Wild, is a great example of the innovation which has taken place in response to the pandemic. The outlet is the first retail offering from the renowned wholesaler, which supplies premium quality beef, lamb and pork to butchers, chefs and caterers across the UK and overseas. As well as providing direct access to the same meat used in the finest restaurants it will also enable shoppers to witness first-hand the craftsmanship involved in our premium meat industry, with a selection of products displayed in MacDuff’s Himalayan salt ageing cabinet, where they will be hung to mature before being collected by discerning home cooks.

I am truly excited by the arrival of Bonnie & Wild and its launch will be an important boost to the hospitality sector at a time when it is needed most. By positioning Scottish food and drink as vibrant and thriving, it could help to showcase the employment opportunities offered by the industry and attract new entrepreneurial operators to enter the frame. Having a robust reputation is also crucial to attracting investors with the funds necessary to grow our fantastic businesses.

As we negotiate the realities of living with COVID-19, it’s time to recognise the achievements of our hard-working food and drink businesses and support them as they strive for post-pandemic success.

Adam Hardie, Partner and Head of Food and Drink, Johnston Carmichael

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