Scottish Business Buzz

Scottish Business Buzz (04.10.17)

Written by Michelle Rodger

A leading tourism figure has warned that a 10 year Brexit transition, not a two year transition, is essential to ensure the Scottish tourism sector can access the skills it needs by the time the UK exits the European Union.

Marc Crothall is chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA). He said a 10-year transition is required to ensure the industry meets the current shortfall in staff it faces as well as to combat the loss of employees when freedom of movement across the European Union ends.

“Two years is just not going to be long enough to allow us to get a good, experienced, mature workforce in play,” Mr Crothall said.

“We already have an insufficient number of people working in our industry to service the demand we have.

“Any risk of us having to lose or see a further decline in an international workforce is a great worry, because the gap to be able to skill a workforce to replace those people is large, and it will take some time.”

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Aberdeen is to install smart benches in three city locations as part of a plan to provide citizens with mobile and laptop charging points.

The initiative to install the benches came from CityLab, a student innovation programme founded by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University. CityLab allows students to consider civic challenges and, during a 12-week user-centred design course, come up with tangible solutions.

The idea for the smart bench sprung from students’ concerns around the safety of young people late at night, if they become separated from friends and their phones are out of charge.

The solar-powered ‘Soofa’ benches, made by a spin-out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), can charge electronic devices and collect data on footfall and air quality. They hit the headlines in 2014 when President Obama was photographed speaking to company co-founder Sandra Richter at a White House ‘Maker Faire’.

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Scotland’s 100 most profitable family-owned companies generate a combined £1 billion of pre-tax profits and have a collective annual turnover of £16.6 billion, according to a new study.

The results also show that the sector employs more than 100,000 staff and contributes 11 per cent to Scotland’s onshore gross domestic product (GDP).

Professor Claire Seaman from Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, who is also Chair in family business at the University, has been working with Family Business United Scotland, Carbon Financial and a range of industry partners over the last six months to reveal ‘The Scottish Family Business Top 100’ and the significant contribution the sector makes to the country’s economy.

Professor Seaman said: “Family firms are the backbone of the Scottish economy and this latest research proves that the sector is a significant employer, revenue generator and contributor.

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Forty million bottles of gin were bought in Britain last year, breaking the £1 billion barrier for the first time and outmuscling sales growth in beer and sparkling wine. Gin sales are forecast to hit £1.37bn by 2020 as the so-called “gin-naissance” picks up speed, and more than 70% of those gins are are produced in Scotland.

The demand for artisan gin helps explain why the number of UK distilleries increased by 19 per cent in the last year. And, despite being a new body, the Scottish Craft Distillers Association already has 20 actively producing members (and the same number in the pipeline).

Read more about BfS member Ian MacDougall’s award-winning Glasgow Distillery, and the story behind the success of its Makar Gin.


A Showcasing Scotland event at Gleneagles this week has attracted 150 buyers from 18 countries to see the best of Scotland’s thriving food and drink sector.

Hosted by Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Development International the event will also see 145 food and drink producers, ranging from artisan producers to some of Scotland’s largest brands, attend the ‘meet the buyer’ event to engage with key buyers in “speed dating style”.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, added: “Showcasing Scotland is the most important trade event in our industry’s calendar.

“It is a truly unique and outstanding opportunity for a number of our most innovative, established and emerging food and drink manufacturers.”

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The Heathrow Business Summit on 18 October will give local businesses the chance to have free 15 minute face-to-face drop in appointments with Heathrow’s supply chain in a one day event taking place at Royal College of Surgeons.

Hosted by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, it’s a unique opportunity for SMEs to make key connections and trade face to face with Heathrow’s supply chain and seek out growth opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. As the UK’s hub airport, Heathrow connects businesses up and down the UK to crucial growth markets around the world.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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