SWA vows to inspire tomorrow’s talent

Scottish association identify future talent as key to industry prosperity

Chief Executive Colin Smith has vowed to ensure the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) “remains vibrant and relevant” as he announced plans to focus on inspiring the next generation at the association’s annual conference.

Smith’s pledge to make wholesale a more attractive proposition for young people north of the border will be achieved by making training, business building, lobbying and legislation key to SWA’s resurgence – while the association wants to link up with like-minded organisations, including FWD.

The association has also created a training academy to enhance skills within the sector to promote wholesale as a viable career path in an attempt to attract more talent to boost the industry.

“Wholesalers deliver £2.9 billion to Scotland’s economy and while we’re a huge industry, wholesale outlets have halved in the past 15 years,” said Smith.

“That’s why we need input from our members, both wholesalers and suppliers, to ensure that our trade association remains vibrant and relevant. A stronger association gives us a stronger, louder voice and a much bigger opportunity for growth and change.

“This is about creating a highly trained wholesale and distribution workforce in Scotland, where our staff aren’t just box-shifters but skilled people who will be the future leaders of our industry.

“This is our competitive advantage and the centrepiece of SWA’s vision into which everything else feeds – it’s the biggest return on investment for our industry. It will create SWA-accredited apprenticeships, a redesigned mentoring programme and use technology to provide a modern academy that transcends online as well as face-to-face training.”

SWA President Julie Dunn also used the conference to urge wholesale and supplier members to take a more active role in shaping the association’s strategic vision.

Dunn, who is Operations Director at Dunns Food and Drinks, spoke about SWA’s core principles of collaboration, consultation and communication that protects members’ interests, needs and future success, but tempered that by saying engaging with the association was the only way to guarantee it remained strong and moved forward.

“We need you to participate,” said Dunn. “My job, along with our council, is to safeguard the SWA and I ask you ‘what can you do for your association?’

“Consider SWA when you’re building your succession planning and look beyond your own diary commitments when we hold events. Who in your business might benefit from attending? And wholesalers, we need to increase our engagement with each other and our suppliers.”

Other speakers at the conference included Bestway Managing Director Dawood Pervez, CJ Lang Chief Executive Colin McLean and Chieh Huang, who is Chief Executive of the US-based wholesaler Boxed.


Bestway Boxed Chieh Huang CJ Lang Colin McLean Colin Smith conference Dawood Pervez Dunns Food and Drinks Julie Dunn next generation SWA