• Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead MSP, Launches SDA at Asda Leith Event
  • 30 Scottish Suppliers To Participate in Six Month Programme
  • Initiative run in partnership with Scotland Food & Drink
  • Graham’s The Family Dairy join visit to share their experience of success

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, has launched a new initiative from Asda that aims to boost local food supplier businesses across Scotland.

Run in partnership with Scotland Food & Drink and supported by a grant from the Scottish Government, Asda’s Scottish Supplier Development Academy (SDA) is a bespoke, six-month training and development programme for the Scottish food and drink sector. It was launched by the Cabinet Secretary at a special Burns’ Supper event at the Asda Leith store, along with Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers. Robert Graham from Graham’s The Family Dairy also attended to share his experience of success with Asda.

Open to applications from all current or potential Asda suppliers in Scotland, large or small, the Academy is an exciting opportunity for suppliers to deepen their knowledge and grow their business with Asda. It is the third time that Asda has worked with Scotland Food & Drink to run the Academy in Scotland. Previous rounds of the programme saw participants increase their sales by up to 330 per cent.

30 Scottish suppliers, including Graham’s The Family Dairy, Malcolm Allan, Stoats, Thistly Cross Cider, McKechnie Jess and Scotty Brand, will sign up for the scheme which gets off to a start next month.

All suppliers will participate in five learning modules; followed by four additional follow-ups which will cover topics including account management, new product development (NPD) and the lifecycle of home-grown Scottish products, from Asda depot receipt to customers’ trolleys and finally their dinner plates.

The Asda Leith event comes just in time for annual Burns Night celebrations and a new partnership between the supermarket chain and producers McKechnie Jess to bring haggis into the 21st century with new spicy and curry variations.

The launch of the SDA follows the highly successful Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015, where Asda celebrated the addition of more than 200 new local Scottish products on the shelves of its 62 stores, with additional sales for the year of over £10.5 million.

Suppliers also enjoyed the success of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink as We Hae Meat celebrated a new £1 million contract with Asda and the creation of 10 new jobs. Customers up and down the country also saw new, innovative products hit the shelves as Malcolm Allan introduced an Asda-exclusive gluten-free Lorne sausage.

Michael McCallion, Senior Buying Manager, Scotland & Northern Ireland, Asda, commented: “At Asda we place huge importance on supporting local suppliers in growing their business, no matter how big or small. Where Asda can take a local product and find it a national or even international market then the benefits are multiple: sales increase, customers get better choice and quality, and suppliers get the confidence and scale to make the move from small to medium to large businesses. Invariably that means more local jobs and more investment with local primary producers.

“Asda’s Supplier Development Academy presents a unique opportunity for new and experienced suppliers to strengthen their understanding of modern-day retail, along with refining their commercial and marketing practices and skills. It also helps to deliver what our customers tell us they want – high-quality, great value Scottish products on Asda shelves.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, said: “Producers across Scotland make delicious, high quality food and drink. Whether they are traditional staples or innovative new products, we have a great range of tasty ingredients. I want to see more local options on sale in stores and the Asda Supplier Development Academy, which has been made possible by a £40,000 grant from the Scottish Government, is a tried and tested way for Scottish food companies to maximise the amount of their produce on the shelves of the company stores.

“I am pleased to see such a wide range of companies already signed up and hope this leads them onto great success and more Scottish products on sale in Asda.”

Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers added: “Our partnership with Asda and Scottish Government in delivering this work has become a hugely important part of what we do. The Supplier Development Academy has been a tremendous success in its previous two iterations and we have big ambitions for all 30 participants from Scotland in 2016. Participants in the last programme saw over £12 million in sales increases as a result of their involvement. Companies taking part vary in size and represent a broad range of the food and drink sector in Scotland.

“The Academy demonstrates the commitment that we all share to grow the retail sales of Scottish food and drink businesses, offering strengthening choice for consumers. This programme delivers because it focuses on skills, capability building and collaboration with suppliers, meaning they are stronger and more successful for their involvement. The track record of this work is fantastic but we all feel there are still many opportunities to unlock, hence the new programme.”

Robert Graham, Managing Director at Graham’s The Family Dairy, commented: “Graham’s The Family Dairy has enjoyed a close working relationship with Asda, one our largest customers, for 15 years and we are firm supporters of their Scottish Supplier Development Academy. It provides a unique insight into supermarket trading disciplines and allows us to develop relationships with Head Office, which in turn helps us expand south of the border. Asda has a strong local sourcing team with which we engage regularly, and which shares a common aim of growing a stronger Scottish food and drink industry.

“Last year, Graham’s extended its award-winning product line by launching exciting new ranges of ice creams and spreadable butters, and our sales have exceeded expectations. We look forward to taking part in this year’s Asda Academy and exploring new ways to continue to grow our market in Scotland and beyond.”

With over £1.2bn worth of Scottish produce being sourced annually from more than 100 Scotland-based suppliers, including many family-run organisations, Asda is keen to extend its support for the sector by creating more opportunities for its suppliers, both in Scotland and the UK-wide market.