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Scottish Design Exchange to open Foodies store

Lynzi Leroy: time is right

The Scottish Design Exchange, which provides stall space to hundreds of craft workers, is launching a dedicated food business.

Foodies will open its first store in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries next month, providing space for more than 60 independent producers.

The new store will bring the total number of Scottish Design Exchange (SDX) outlets to four. Its existing shops, in Buchanan Galleries, George Street and the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh currently provide retail space for 320 artists, designers, and local craftspeople.

The retail spaces and online store have generated more than £6million in revenue for independent producers since SDX launched in 2015.

The community interest company was created by chief executive Lynzi Leroy, a former project manager for Shell.

SDX provides a commercial lifeline to artists and designers, offering space to sell their work on the high street, away from commission charged by other retailers and galleries, which can be as high as 60%. 

Unlike most art galleries, SDX does not charge commission on items sold.  Artists and designers pay a fixed, monthly fee to rent space in the stores, and they keep 100% of their sales.

Ms Leroy said the launch of Foodies is in response to overwhelming demand from SDX traders and customers for a dedicated food store. She anticipates the new store will be popular with tourists as well as customers from Glasgow and further afield.

She said: “We are a non-profit social enterprise and, for nearly a decade, we have been supporting Scottish artists and designers to grow and develop their businesses, as well as making their passion their livelihood. Now we are looking to do the same for those who make amazing food.

“Scotland has a huge number of small, specialist and artisan food producers but many struggle to find places to sell their premium products. With the cost of ingredients rising over the past few years, profit margins for food producers have been badly hit.

“Farmers’ markets provide a great opportunity for food producers, but they are sporadic and they tend to take place only at weekends.

“They can also be expensive, and footfall can be affected by poor weather. Other outlets, such as independent delis, tend to be off the beaten track, in areas of towns and cities, that don’t always get the footfall required to allow food producers to make a reliable profit.”

Foodies will be located close to the SDX Glasgow store which has been trading in Buchanan Galleries for the past five years. During that time, it has built a loyal customer base, generating more than 32,000 transactions, worth a total of £832,000 in sales, in the past year alone.

Ms Leroy said: “Our customer research suggests we will get a similar footfall for our food producers, as we have achieved for our artist and designers.

“We have sold a few food products, such as honey, dressings, chocolate, tablet, spice mixes and hot sauces and at our stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh and they have always been popular with customers.”

She added: “The fixed-fee model we run at the SDX – and will now introduce into Foodies – will ensure that producers get to keep 100% of all sales made.

“We also provide traders with support for their marketing and branding, helping them to get the word out about their product to the wider market.”

Ms Leroy said she has been thinking about launching a dedicated food store for several years, but that conditions were never quite right, until now.

She said: “When we first discussed the idea with Buchanan Galleries, prior to the Covid pandemic, they were very supportive, but successive lockdowns forced us to delay our plans.

“When a suitable unit became available earlier this year, we knew the time was right to open Foodies and provide local food producers, a store for people who want to shop specifically for specialist food and drink products.”

She added: “We have been lucky to have had support from the management team in Buchanan Galleries, who have always been behind our model, providing additional marketing opportunities for our brands, through their social media platform, which has a fantastic reach.”

Annette Paterson, commercial retail manager at Buchanan Galleries, said, “We’re immensely proud to celebrate Scottish heritage and culture here at Buchanan Galleries, which has been so greatly encapsulated by the ongoing success of the Scottish Design Exchange since the store opened in 2018. 

“We’re thrilled to support Lynzi with the Foodies expansion, which will allow shoppers to find premium, high-quality produce from some uniquely Scottish independent small businesses and suppliers.

“Scotland is known for its wide variety of food and drink, and it’s thanks to the expansion of SDX and Foodies that Glasgow’s locals can find their everyday favourites, or tourists visiting the city can take home a small taste of Scotland.

“We look forward to seeing the store open this July and wish Lynzi, and the wider SDX team all the best in this new venture.”

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