By Gillian McKenzie
Backed by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), British Hospitality Association (BHA), Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), Heineken and Diageo, ‘The Original Social Network’ initiative aims to highlight the contribution the on-trade makes to Scotland and its role as “part of the social fabric of the nation”.
The Scottish on-trade is said to directly employ more than 43,000 people – 40% of whom are aged under 25 – and contribute over £1.5 billion to the economy, as well as generating over £900 million in tax revenues.
The new initiative was launched at a reception in the Scottish Parliament, attended by cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment Richard Lochhead and Christina McKelvie MSP; the event included a preview screening of a short film depicting snapshots of the day-to-day running of various outlets across Scotland, which was created as part of the campaign.
Speaking at the parliamentary reception, SBPA president David Paterson said the importance of Scotland’s pubs and bars cannot be underestimated.
“There are 5000 pubs in Scotland today employing 43,000 people – that’s more than Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils combined; 40% of staff are under 25 and, as well as giving many their first job, there are great career opportunities in the trade,” he said.
“Scotland’s pubs and bars are playing a leading role in the Scottish food and drink renaissance. Pub chefs are increasingly using fresh, local ingredients and raising standards; that’s great news for Scotland’s economy and for locals and tourists too.”
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the SLTA, said: “For generations the original social network was the ‘local’ however, in recent years, the bar and restaurant scene has struggled due to tough economic times.
“Scotland’s on-trade has had to reinvent itself to once again become the heart of the community.
“With this campaign we are passionate about recapturing the joy that these establishments bring – where romances blossom, business ideas are brought to fruition and new careers flourish. It’s all about demonstrating the importance and positive impact of the trade at the heart of communities across Scotland.”