New Academy serves up launch event to whet the appetite of Leeds independent food traders
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 (LeedsBID), showcased the advice, support and training it is set to offer small independent enterprises by hosting two days of bespoke workshops and seminars run by local industry experts and experienced operators.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said of the event: “The response we got from businesses was fantastic, with many pre-start and new businesses benefitting from advice and new collaborations with established businesses over the two days However the benefits to those who join the Independent Food and Drink Academy will be much longer term. The advice and support available through the Academy will be invaluable to many start-ups or growing businesses, and will help them maximise on the increase in popularity in the food and drink industry in our city.”
The two day event, which was free to attend and attracted over 100 independent traders, was held at two of Leeds’s most prominent food outlets, Belgrave Music Hall and Trinity Kitchen. The first day, which targeted start-up businesses, included sessions on legal compliance, creating and communicating your brand and financial performance. The second day, which focused on established operators looking to grow their businesses, included sessions on utilising customer data, strategic planning and a round table discussion with some of Leeds’s most successful food operators, including Martin Wolstencroft of Arc Inspirations, Scott Munro of Red’s True Barbecue and Matt Dix and Simon Fogal of Leeds Indie Food.
Holly Bowman, founder of North Star Coffee Roasts and attendee, commented: “It was fantastic (though not surprising) to see so many passionate foodie businesses at the launch of the IFDA. It was a great couple of days and I think everyone learnt a lot, whether they were just starting out or had been going for a couple of years. We are really looking forward to future events and think it will be a fantastic resource for the city.”
From £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, which could include 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.
Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive, LeedsBID, was among the attendees over the two day launch and said: “LeedsBID is investing in innovative projects and initiatives which can help to make a difference, while raising the profile and attraction of the city.
“The IFDA is playing a key role in ensuring small independent enterprises have all the right ingredients to succeed, and helping to strengthen the city’s independent food and drink offer. It was great to see the Academy getting off to such an encouraging and promising start.”
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. Sofia Robelo, Senior Lecturer in the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Beckett, and one of the minds behind the Academy, explained: “The IFDA aims to provide a community environment in which to collaborate, share practical advice and facilitate conversation. This is only the beginning. We strongly encourage cities to support their independent food traders and we hope to create a blueprint for similar national schemes. As our logo says: ‘First we eat, then we do everything else!’”
The IFDA’s 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.
For further information, to read more about members’ benefits or to contact one of the IFDA support team, visit www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/food-academy. The IFDA is also on twitter @IFDAcademy and Instagram.