Scottish Bakers McGhees

Source: Scottish Bakers

Pictured (l to r): McGhee’s managing director Gordon McGhee; Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands; Scottish Bakers president and McGhee’s production director Ian Mcghee

Scotland’s rural affairs secretary has been told of the intense strain the economic crisis is putting bakery owners under.

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, met Scottish Bakers president Ian McGhee and chief executive Alasdair Smith when she visited Baking Industry Award winner McGhee’s Bakery.

She was told how challenging the current economic environment is for bakers, with soaring energy and ingredients costs placing a significant strain on owners. Trade body Scottish Bakers is particularly concerned about what will happen when the current energy cap for business ends in March next year.

Gougeon heard how this was coupled with a challenging recruitment market that meant many businesses were struggling to find new staff and to retain existing skilled employees.

McGhee, who is production director at his family’s bakery business, urged the Scottish government to help mitigate the many pressures on businesses through rates relief for business manufacturing sites, delaying the introduction of potentially costly new regulation and providing access to grants to install renewable energy sources.

In a letter sent to the Scottish government last week, Scottish Bakers was one of 19 business bodies calling for a freeze to business rates in the coming financial year.

McGhee reiterated the concerns in the letter, stating: “Scotland’s business rate is already at a 23-year high but after two turbulent years of the pandemic, the fact is trading conditions remain challenging, the cost of doing business is spiralling, and the near-term economic outlook is weak.

“We stand ready to trade and to train our way out of the current situation, but the Government must do its bit to give us a fighting chance.”

Gougeon said she was thankful for having had the opportunity to discuss matters of interest to the bakery sector.

“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,” she added. “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.”