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    SWA chief sheds light on challenges in Scottish Procurement Reform

    Colin Smith

    Scottish Wholesale Association chief executive Colin Smith on Wednesday (7) gave evidence to the Economy and Fair Work Committee as part of their post legislative scrutiny of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 in Scottish Parliament.

    Following views garnered from SWA members, Smith shared the key issues around some of the challenges the wholesale sector face in trying to deliver the aims of the bill.

    This included the Public Sector misunderstanding of the wholesale supply chain; the rigidity and inflexibility of the procurement framework and additional regulatory burdens preventing many local suppliers tendering for Local Authority contracts, the tendering process being cumbersome, costly and time consuming to complete, too large a focus being weighted on the “cost of food” rather than the “benefit of cost”, and how a whole system approach would create a stronger Scottish/local economy, sustainable local supply chain and job creation.
     
    The SWA delivering Growth Through Wholesale programme was mentioned as a tool to help educate the procurement teams on the “whole food system” and a way to improve the relationship, and build confidence, between the local authorities, wholesaler and supplier.

    Following Smith’s Public Procurement evidence session in the Scottish Parliament, he met Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands to discuss the wholesale sector’s outlook for 2024.

    This included the cost pressures being faced from the rise in the national living wage, erosion of margin and concerns about UK Government’s proposals for “Not For EU” labelling and what this would mean for Scottish wholesalers, suppliers and producers.

    They also sought further investment in the SWA “Delivering Growth Through Wholesale” programme which could unlock even more opportunities for members, with initial findings showing that there have been 238 new Scottish product listings, formed via 59 new wholesale partnerships, during the past 18 months.

    Smith later took to social media to share his thoughts.

    “Just the hope that I’ve said enough to support our members – the wholesale channel and to get the changes made to build confidence and to make doing business easier and cheaper.” he wrote.

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