Leeds Business School

Re-launch of the Independent Food and Drink Academy

Olga Munroe, Head of the Retail Institute at Leeds Business School welcomed business leaders, academics and others to the re-launch of the Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA).

Three people in discussion at event

IFDA provides a forum for small independent enterprises from street-food traders to established businesses to share knowledge, experiences and information to help the business community thrive and grow. Olga highlighted the importance of the sector to the economy which according to the Food & Drink Federation is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing £28.2bn annually and employing 400,000 people. It is a highly competitive and growing sector where 96% of the businesses are smaller businesses that play an important role in developing the attractiveness of a place and driving footfall in mainstream retail environments.

The event was hosted at North Brewing Co where owner Christian Townsley provided a candid and humorous assessment of some of the lessons still being learnt while running a multi-award winning, growing businesses. Ben Barker from Artemis Brew, talked passionately about responsibly sourced coffee and the challenges of managing fluctuating demand for products over time. Neil Campbell, founder of Smak! spoke enthusiastically about Polish food and his journey from street food vendor to café bistro. He challenged the myth of a simple transition from street-food to restaurant and highlighted the time, commitment and problem solving skills required to make a success of it. David Baggaley from Economic Development at Leeds City Council drew attention to the support that is currently available for local businesses, particularly for those involved in business to business markets and seeking to introduce new technology to improve productivity.

A key message emerging from the event was that the strength or innovative nature of your product will only get you so far if the services you provide fall short of customer expectations or you are unable to access the business related knowledge and skills necessary to sustain the endeavour.

People - customers, suppliers, your workforce, accountants, lawyers, specialist advisors, family and others who share your vision are a key to success.

Further information about IFDA events is available from www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/ifda.

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