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Business club expansion will help Highlands and Islands firms recover from Covid-19 impact

By Calum MacLeod

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Johnstons of Elgin is among the businesses endorsing the new Highland and Islands Productivity Club.
Johnstons of Elgin is among the businesses endorsing the new Highland and Islands Productivity Club.

From today, businesses in the Highlands and Islands will be able to sign up for free to a new and ambitious initiative aimed at enhancing productivity in the region.

After the success of pilot projects in Edinburgh and Glasgow over the past year, Productivity Club Scotland has launched a new project specifically aimed at businesses in the Highlands and Islands. Similar clubs are being launched in the north east and south of Scotland.

Businesses supporting the project include tweed and cashmere provider Johnstons of Elgin, which has endorsed the new club in a video urging Highlands and Islands businesses to sign up at www.productivity.scot.

The video includes Chris Gaffney, finance director of Johnstons of Elgin and Ivan McKee MSP, Scotland's minister for trade, investment and innovation, along with other business leaders from across Scotland.

Mr Gaffney said: “Productivity is an issue for all of us, no matter what kind of business we are in. There is always a lot of learning to be gathered by working with not just peers within your industry but from other types of businesses as well.”

Productivity Club Scotland, which is funded by Scottish Government and delivered by SCDI (Scottish Council for Development and Industry), provides an opportunity to unite businesses to take advantage of new resources to drive innovation, productivity, sustainable development and economic growth during the challenging times post Covid-19.

The clubs encourage peer-learning between enterprises and facilitate cross-sector advice, experience and knowledge on how to improve the productivity and resilience of Scottish businesses.

More than three-quarters of businesses involved in the initial pilot in Edinburgh and Glasgow said membership had helped them build useful business connections and more than 72 per cent expected to see improvements in their business productivity as a result.

Nearly nine out of 10 current members are either small or medium enterprise, making it ideal for companies of all sizes to benefit from the networking advantages that the new clubs will offer to improve the performance of their business going forward.

Scotland's trade minister Ivan McKee.
Scotland's trade minister Ivan McKee.

Mr McKee commented: "“We are extremely pleased with the remarkable success our Productivity Club pilots have enjoyed in their first year, with well over 1000 members connecting together to start improving business performance across Scotland.

“It is with some excitement that, in collaboration with SCDI, we are now establishing new pilots in North East Scotland, the Highlands and Islands, and the South of Scotland. I wish the clubs and all their member businesses every success in helping drive productivity growth across Scotland.”

SCDI programme manager, Ashleigh McCulloch, said: “Disappointing productivity have been a worrying feature of both the Scottish and wider UK economy for the past decade and this has only been exacerbated by the lockdown activity as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. What we know from speaking to our members is that collaboration and sharing of information during this time as been invaluable to support businesses and navigate through the current landscape.

“We would urge as many businesses as possible to sign-up and harness the knowledge and experience of other members in this unique peer to peer community.”

Signing up to a club is free of charge and can be done at www.productivity.scot . The first event for the Highland and Islands club will take place on December 11 with more details to be announced shortly.

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