A BESPOKE GROWTH PROGRAMME TO CATALYSE GROWTH IN NORTH EAST SCOTLAND’S FOOD AND DRINK SECTOR 

The ONE Food and Drink Business Growth Programme (BGP) was founded in 2017 and aims to catalyse growth in the sector by equipping businesses with the skills and knowledge to accelerate their development through the creation of new products, entering new markets and securing new retail and food service listings to increase turnover and create new jobs.

“The ONE BGP focus on customers and markets highlighted the strong movement towards clean eating, provenance and sustainability. All three trends are closely aligned with Hungry Squirrel and this is something we can capitalise on and use to differentiate ourselves within the marketplace. Through the programme, I made a new connection to a fellow local food producer and as a result, am moving into commercial premises next month. I’ve invested in a new nut butter mill to allow me to increase productivity and volume and will now be working towards attaining Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) certification which is essential to meet the demands of larger customers.

“I’ve also had my first experience meeting a national buyer which increased my confidence and expanded my ideas about where the business could grow and where I should focus my attention. I am now confident I have formulated a growth plan which is manageable, realistic and ambitious for the future.”

Susan Yule, founder, Hungry Squirrel.

“The BGP has provided us with the tools to approach larger retailers, analyse gaps in the market and generate ideas for future market trends. As a result, later this year, we plan to launch a fruit infused gin and take on our third full-time member of staff, with the aim of being stocked in a high-end specialist retailer in every major UK city this time next year. Blackford Craft Distillery is, at its heart, a family business with its roots in North East Scotland, but we have great ambition for expansion.”

Neil Sime, co-founder, Blackford Craft Distillery.

“The timing of this year’s BGP coincided with my decision to leave my previous employment and focus on Teasmith full-time. In the 18 months since launching we had spent most of our energy developing the product and selling it locally and, although neither of us have worked in the food and drink industry before, we recognised that we had reached a pivotal point in our development. Working closely with the ONE team and the industry experts, we have been able to absorb their sector-specific expertise to really concentrate on our costs, the routes to market and different markets including wholesale, which are new to us. We understand the value to be gained from investing in our own profile and were thrilled to recently be awarded two International Wine & Spirits Challenge (IWSC) awards which are designed to recognise and reward the very best in the wine and spirits industry. We hope this will be a key part of our refreshed buyer presentation pack which is being developed to target new buyers and larger deals in the premium retailers. The support to drive and grow your business is out there and, for us, the Business Growth Programme has been key to renewing our sense of direction.”

Emma Smalley, co-founder, Teasmith Spirit Company. 

“The time spent in the Business Growth Programme gave me the chance to develop my understanding of market share and brand value while increasing my confidence in the business as it grew from a hobby to my full-time focus. With the support and expertise from the coaches, I have since refined my business, created a new product which is on the market and secured a new buyer who was a fellow participant on the programme. Coming from a 40-year background at sea, the opportunity to expand my network in north east Scotland with other like-minded food and drink businesses who were going through the same challenges as me, was invaluable.”

Jimmy Buchan, founder, Amity Fish Company.

“The BGP offered us a great opportunity to learn more about running a food and drink business while expanding our network with others who were going through the same experience. The programme has given us the confidence to expand our business across Scotland but also globally- we now employ four people, have doubled the size of our distillery premises and increased our production capacity by 400% to over 70,000 bottles per year to meet growing demand in Europe and China.”

Steven Duthie, co-founder, Esker Spirits.

“As a young business, I learned a lot in the 2017 BGP. ONE encouraged the development of our rebrand and created opportunities to access new customers and suppliers that have led to a huge increase in sales and our customer base. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Ellie Sinclair, founder, Veg Co.