New Academy to boost Leeds independent food scene
7 April 2016 - Kelly Scotney
Independent food traders in Leeds and the surrounding areas will soon be able to access a unique business service - the Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA) – a joint venture run by Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council (LCC), and supported by Leeds Business Improvement District (BID).
The IFDA, to be launched on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 April at the Belgrave Music Hall and Trinity Kitchen, will provide advice, support and training to small independent enterprises, from street food traders to established small businesses. Its objective is to help to professionalise, sustain and grow the independent food and drink sector in the Leeds city region by providing a blend of contextualised learning and development opportunities.
Guy Lincoln, Senior Lecturer in the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Beckett, and one of the minds behind the Academy, explained: “The number and variety of businesses providing food and drink in Leeds is growing at a fast rate, and the level of competition increases along with it. In recognition of this, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council and Leeds BID have launched the Independent Food and Drink Academy as a way to provide effective and accessible business support. A community in which to share practical advice and facilitate conversation.
“By bringing together a fantastic network of industry experts and experienced operators, our aim is to share our knowledge and understanding of the food and drink sectors and to support business owners in establishing and growing their businesses to reach their full potential. We hope to create a blueprint for similar national schemes.”
The Academy has already received the backing of some of Leeds’s most respected and well-known independent food operators, including Arc Inspirations, Fish&, Leeds Indie Food, Laynes Espresso, Manjits Kitchen, Northern Monk, North Bar and Reds True Barbecue.
For £100 membership fee per year, Academy members will have access to a wide range of significant benefits provided by both Leeds Beckett University and LCC, including business health checks, educational master classes, funding for growth advice, a single point of contact at LCC, discount city centre trading pitches, a student talent pool and peer-to-peer networking events.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Leeds has become a very attractive proposition to food and drink businesses over the past few years, with a noticeable increase in pop-up eateries and independents opening up all over the city. Our very own Kirkgate Market has a proud history of providing an amazing variety of food produce, and as part of the multi-million pound refurbishment due to open later this year, we are also introducing a new eating area which will include pop up traders as well as fixed cafes.
“We are really keen to maximise on this increase in popularity by offering the fantastic opportunity to anyone thinking of opening up or growing their food and drink business. The advice and support available through the Independent Food and Drink Academy will be invaluable to many start-ups or growing businesses in this industry.”
The launch event, which is free to attend, will run over two days. It will see industry experts deliver sessions and workshops specifically designed to cover start-up business needs (Monday 25 April, http://bit.ly/1XMS2WX), and growing businesses (Tuesday 26 April, http://bit.ly/1Ry3D7A). Five free memberships will be given away over the course of the two days to attendees who can best demonstrate how their business has the potential to grow into one of Leeds’s favourite food haunts. For further information, and to book a place, visit the links provided.
Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive, Leeds Business Improvement District, commented: “Independent food and drink is a key ingredient in the city’s culinary offer and is vital in driving a unique food offering all year round, putting Leeds firmly on the national food map. Leeds BID, in collaboration with Leeds Beckett and LCC, is pleased to support this new initiative for the city, building strength and reputation of the sector and raising the profile of Leeds.”
Emily Boothroyd, a street food business owner in Leeds (Bánh mì Booth), said: “If the opportunity to work with an academy like the IFDA had been offered to me when I was starting out I wouldn't have hesitated to sign up.
“When you start a food business you need all the advice you can get. To have someone you can turn to and run ideas past, someone that has been there, done that, has expertise in that particular area, be it accounting or event planning - is really an invaluable resource."
For further information about the launch event, to read more about members’ benefits or to contact one of the IFDA support team, visit http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/food-academy/. The IFDA is also on twitter @IFDAcademy and Instagram.