Scottish Business Buzz

Scottish Business Buzz (22.11.17)

Written by Michelle Rodger

Almost half of Scotland’s businesses don’t have basic digital skills that could help them improve productivity and save costs.

According to the Scotland Business Digital Index 2017  48% of Scotland’s small businesses are lacking basic skills and missing out on the business benefits those would bring.

The report has found that digitally capable organisations are twice as likely to report an increase in turnover compared to non-digital equivalents and are also more productive. In Scotland, 71% of businesses reported saving time from being online and 56% said they saved on costs.

Philip Grant is Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Scotland and chair of the Scottish Executive Committee. He said: “Digital technology continues to offer tremendous opportunities for Scotland’s business community, increasing sales, improving productivity and opening up international markets. But to leverage this, it’s essential that businesses have the right skills.”

To help, a series of regular Digital Garages are being held across the country to give small businesses access to free, expert advice, as part of Lloyds Helping Britain Prosper Plan. In Scotland, there are currently have more than 4,900 digital champions – colleagues who are trained and empowered to help improve the basic digital skills of people and businesses within their local communities.

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Scotland’s only awards programme dedicated to supporting entrepreneurial women has been launched with a prize for winners of  a free, market-building trip to meet business angels and industry leaders in California.

The awards, now in their third year, are designed to inspire and support more female-led companies in Scotland. The programme provides a platform for aspiring businesswomen to showcase their companies to an audience of angel investors, commercial advisers and fellow entrepreneurs. To date, more than 300 businesswomen have joined the AccelerateHER community with the 2018 Awards expected to attract an even larger group of entrants.

The 2018 AccelerateHER Awards winners will also be travelling to Dubai, for a similar programme as California, with the opportunity to meet key industry contacts and investors, showcase their business at events and potentially attract investment.

Last year’s winners Rebecca Pick of Pick Protection, Heather McDonald of WooHa Brewing and Polly Van Alstyne of Scottish Bioenergy attended a summit of investors in San Francisco to meet industry and finance leaders hot on the heels of the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. This year, in addition to the California expedition, winners will also be eligible to join a second trip to meet industry leaders and investors in Dubai, thanks to a partnership with the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot Watt University.

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It’s a world first for Aberdeen as Scotland’s first tequila company launches Speyside whisky cask aged tequilas.

The company, UWA Tequila, is the first tequila brand in the industry to put a Scottish twist on the traditional Mexican spirit.

Set up in September 2016 and  headquartered in Aberdeen following a six-figure investment by owners Michael Ballantyne and Ross Davidson, the luxury tequila brand has now officially released two of its core range of super premium products to the market.

The triple distilled 100% Blue Weber spirit is aged and rested in premium pre-filled Speyside whisky casks which are exported from Scotland and transported to Tequila, Mexico.

This is the first time a tequila has been created by ageing it in Scotch whisky casks without combining different blends.

UWA’s core product line-up includes a platinum blanco – the spirit in its purest form, a seven-month cask aged reposado, and a 14-month cask aged añejo which the company will release in Spring next year.

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Scottish workers will be the hardest hit as Brexit could cost each worker a week’s wages.

Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish families have taken the biggest hits to their living standards, according to the most detailed analysis yet of the inflation which followed last year’s Leave victory.

Economists have calculated that price rises provoked by the crash in the pound means the average UK household is losing £400 a year. Residents in the Celtic nations are suffering most because imported foodstuffs and other products make up a bigger share of their spending.

Thomas Sampson of the London School of Economics, one of the report’s authors, said: “Even before Brexit occurs, the increase in inflation caused by the Leave vote has already hurt UK households.

“Our results provide compelling evidence that, so far, UK households are paying an economic price for voting to leave the EU.”

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Conciliation service Acas has updated their guide on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.

The new advice on what constitutes sexual harassment includes unwanted physical contact, remarks about a colleague’s appearance, or displaying pornographic images, plus offers tips for workers on how to report incidents.

There are also examples of how sexual harassment can happen at work, such as written or verbal comments of a sexual nature, including remarks about a colleague’s appearance and questions about their sex life.

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A new initiative has been introduced by the Scottish Government and Chambers of Commerce to provide more businesses with the opportunity and support to trade abroad.

Five pilot Local Export Partnerships (LEPs) are being launched to increase the number of firms exporting their products and services.

The partnerships – in Cairngorms; Inverness/Highlands and Islands; Dumfries and Galloway/Scottish Borders; Edinburgh/Lothian and Glasgow/Lanarkshire – will bring together Scottish Development International, local authorities and a range of local support organisations. They will offer support and expertise to companies, particularly SMEs, with little or no previous exporting experience and help them enter international markets.

The Scottish Government is providing up to £400,000 to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to develop the pilot programme.

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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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