SWA’s Smith welcomes £8 million wholesaler support

Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) Chief Executive Colin Smith has welcomed news that wholesalers will get access to £8 million supply chain funding.

Smith spoke about the First Minister’s announcement that food and drink wholesalers will be included in the fund, which comes from the Scottish government’s £100 million Omicron business support package.

It’s a boost for business north of the border that have been affected by Scottish government advice to cancel Christmas parties and reduce social interactions – with some wholesalers reporting they’re trading at 60% of 2019 levels in recent weeks.

Smith has been in regular contact with Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Scottish Government officials since the start of the pandemic to keep wholesale on the agenda.

“We are now working with the Scottish Government on the design of the fund which we expect will run in January once businesses have a better understanding of the impact,” said Smith. “There will also be support for businesses to repurpose and redistribute unsold stock to community organisations.

“This new funding recognises the immediate hardship being felt by wholesale businesses as their hospitality, leisure and tourism sector customers cancel orders.

“This is traditionally the busiest time of the year and Scotland’s wholesalers were looking forward to a successful Christmas trading period to begin the process of recovery after 20 months which have devastated the industry. Some wholesalers are holding even more stock than usual as a result of the difficulties experienced in the food supply chain in recent months and they are sitting on significant debt which needs to be repaid soon.

“Our members, most of whom are SMEs, are now facing the horrendous prospect of further lockdowns.

“We all appreciate that this support alone won’t be enough to provide financial aid to all wholesalers who need it or cover the huge losses in sales but it will help cover some costs and address some potential food waste.”

Colin Smith coronavirus covid-19 hospitality Omicron Scottish government Scottish Wholesale Association SWA Wholesalers