'Savvy' industry veteran appointed new CEO for Scottish Bakers

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Lesley Cameron has been appointed CEO of Scottish Bakers. Pic: Scottish Bakers
Lesley Cameron has been appointed CEO of Scottish Bakers. Pic: Scottish Bakers

Related tags Scottish Bakers Skills Development Scotland labour shortage Communication

Lesley Cameron - lauded for her ‘blend of strategic engagement, commercial acumen and marketing savvy’ - will step into the leadership role from 4 September.

Cameron replaces Alasdair Smith, who had been in the hot seat for five years before bowing out at the beginning of May.

Smith’s task hadn’t been an easy ride of late, with the cost of doing business spiralling to unprecedented highs. However, in his exit interview, Smith said, “We are hearing is of quite strong demand for product,​ so that's quite reassuring for us as an association and for the trade as well.”

Communication was high on Smith’s agenda as CEO of Scottish Bakers.

“As an association, we are now communicating better with our members than we've ever done before,”​ he said.

This undoubtedly will be a mantle that Cameron will take on with vigour.

Cameron has over 20 years’ experience working in the food and drinks industry - primarily driving marketing and communications, along with developing consumer brands in both domestic and international markets for companies like Kettle Produce, Macsween of Edinburgh, and more recently, Baxters Food Group.

Her most recent role was director of Marketing and Communications at Quality Meat Scotland, a position she has held since September 2019.

Skill set we need

CEO illustration Getty
Pic: GettyImages

Scottish Bakers president and director of McGhee’s Bakery Ian McGhee noted Cameron’s “blend of strategic engagement, commercial acumen and marketing savvy is exactly the skill set we need to further our agenda and support our sector,” ​especially at this “crucial time of legislative change and ongoing cost challenges facing us both as businesses and consumers.”

The bakery sector in Scotland delivers more than £1 billion to the Scottish economy and employs around 12,000 people. However, like other sectors in the wider food and drink industry, it’s has struggled with labour shortages, despite Scotland currently punching in with the lowest unemployment in recent history

In his exit interview, Smith told us, “[Labour shortages] has been an ongoing challenge for us,”​ he added.

“A lot of our members are trying to make their businesses a more attractive place to work … offering not just a good wage, but other benefits and non-financial incentives like extra leave: anything that will make them the employer of choice.

“Of course … “our firm belief is that staff training and development is good for business and creates great career paths for individuals enriching the industry as a whole,”​ he added.

Scottish Bakers is a major independent provider of apprenticeships to Scotland’s food and drink manufacturing industry, delivering industry-standard training through its specialist training arm, National Food and Drink Training (NFDT).

These efforts are underpinned by the association’s ‘for the good of all’ mission to make the baking industry more competitive and sustainable,

Navigating the everchanging landscape

Bakers in training Getty
Pic: GettyImages

Cameron is ready for the challenge, noting “the complexity within the current skills system​ and its future transformation continues to challenge our members, however, it is an area for us to support and develop.”

She added, “It is my role to ensure our members are strategically represented with policymakers and industry partners, including Scotland Food and Drink, Skills Development Scotland, plus other key opinion formers and decisionmakers.

“We continue to work in an everchanging landscape with health and sustainability at the heart of consumers purchasing behaviour. In addition, the global climate emergency is challenging the way the world lives and works, cost of production, food labelling and product reformulation is also driving complexity within the retail environment.

“On a personal level, I am excited to be joining such a well-respected trade association which represents some dynamic businesses and to be at the heart of the next phase of the Association’s development will be an honour and I look forward to being part of the Scottish Bakers family.”

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