The recent announcement that the Scottish Government’s new £250,000 food-to-go grant programme is now live should be welcome news for many local retailers across Scotland.
Announced at last year’s SGF Conference and administered by SGF, the grant programme is the first significant reflection of the Government’s desire to invest in the vital local retailing sector in Scotland since the launch of the Healthy Living programme.
I would encourage all retailers who could make use of a £7,500 grant to take advantage – because why wouldn’t you? Aside from the fact that a solid food-to-go offering is generally accepted as a core element of most modern stores’ offering, it would also do the industry no harm to show that it appreciates the interest from the Government.
To put it bluntly, if we manage to spend the £250k on offer between us as an industry, they should be more inclined to consider further substantial investment in future. And the more interest the Government has in our sector the better, frankly.
We get enough unwanted attention that costs the sector a fortune as it is – alcohol, tobacco, fat, sugar – so it’s about time we had some positive interest and some sort of sign that the Government actually does value the massive convenience trade in Scotland. Every politician that has ever spoken about our industry hails as it as vital to communities up and down Scotland, without fail, but that moral support is rarely backed up substantial action, or monetary investment.
The programme aims to support and encourage the capacity of independent local retailers in Scotland to innovate and respond to changing customer demands through the development of a food-to-go offering. Grants will be awarded for the installation of a new food-to-go station on a 50% match-funding basis, capped at £7,500.
In other words, if you are prepared to invest £7,500 then the programme will match it for you, turning your investment into a £15k spend. Applications must to be received no later than April 30, 2018. You don’t get offered £7.5k very often so it looks like a no-brainer to me.
We all know that food-to-go is a proven way of helping remain competitive, increasing footfall and generating new income streams.
So, if you are thinking about it at all, now is the time to make the move. You’ll also indirectly be doing the industry a favour while you do one for yourself and your customers.
Antony Begley, Publishing Director