Scottish Bakers president Ian McGhee said the new board members bring “bring a wealth of knowledge, passion and commitment to the organisation” that has been the voice of the industry for over 130 years.
Alasdair Smith, Scottish Bakers CEO, added the appointments have come at a crucial time for the sector.
“We are facing an existential crisis from cost-of-living impacts on energy and ingredient costs coupled with real recruitment and skills challenges and the very likely possibility of less Government investment in skills for our future,” he said.
“We welcome Andrew, Chloe and Shirley to help us chart these choppy waters while still celebrating the incredible skills and very real contribution to the economy that our sector delivers.”
Chisholm – MD of JB Christie (Airdrie-based Christie the Baker) – has been a key worker in the bakery industry for the past 30 years, working up from apprentice to business owner. He believes his vast experience places him in the right position to offer constructive assistance in the future flow of the Scottish baking industry.
Chloe Milne of Fisher & Donaldson is a fifth generation of the family business, joining the Fife-based bakery café chain as co-director in 2019, with the initial focus on marketing and communications. She considers that her knowledge of her business and the sector make her a strong candidate for the association, but more so her experience as a young woman in business.
Shirley Simson is rejoining the Scottish Bakers board – having being a member during her tenure with Baynes the Family Bakers. She is currently operations director of North Lanarkshire-based Lees Foods Limited (Less of Scotland), having worked in the sector for more than 30 years on household brands like McVities and Burtons, among others. He is passionate about empowering the workforce through training and engaging the younger generation to join the trade.
According to Scottish Bakers, workers in this sector toil – through high times and low troughs – to provide communities with daily bread, savoury snacks and sweet treats.
But it’s not only the freshly baked produce that makes the sector the unsung high street heroes, as it also delivers over £1bn to the economy, a fifth of all food and drink manufacturing. As such, it needs nurturing to maintain a fresh supply of ‘new blood’ – a key function of the Scottish Bakers.
“I am delighted to welcome Andrew, Chloe and Shirley to the board of Scottish Bakers,” said McGhee.
“They each bring a wealth of knowledge, passion and commitment to the organisation, which has supported our interests for so long.”
Understanding the needs
Scottish Bakers has been supporting the interests of Scotland's bakery trade for 131 years – representing, advising and supporting all aspects to ensure it remains competitive and equipped for growth.
Mairi Gougeon MSP, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, recently met with McGhee and Smith to discuss the most pressing issues impacting the sector. She was also given a guided tour of McGhee’s Bakery in Glasgow to witness first-hand how hard bakers are working to keep fresh baked goods on the shelves.
The primary topic of conversation was obviously the current economic environment, with soaring energy and ingredients costs placing an ‘existential threat’ on businesses. While the relief already provided through Westminster has been welcomed, the association remains concerned about the future beyond the end of March 2023 when the current energy cap for business is scheduled to end.
McGhee urged the Scottish Government to do what it could to help mitigate the many measures faced by businesses in the current climate, including rates relief for business manufacturing sites, delaying the introduction of potentially costly new regulation and providing access to grants to install renewable energy sources.
Supporting the sector
Following the meeting, Gougeon reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to support the sector, while also engaging with – and calling for – the UK Government to take action to help businesses in reserved areas such as energy and migration.
“In recent years, the sector has been facing unprecedented challenges, with the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and Brexit, and now with the high energy prices, labour shortages as well as the cost of living crisis,” said Gougeon.
“I very much appreciate the incredible resilience shown by the businesses in adapting and continuing to help feed the nation.
“We will continue to work with the sector on a range of initiatives to address the current issues where we can.
“We have provided £10 million of funding over 2020-22 towards the food and drink sector’s recovery plan, with a further £5 million allocated for 2022-23.”