Thomsons Foodservice

September 2018

Family run Dumfries business Thomsons Foodservice looks to the future with D&G Growth Accelerator Programme.

Running a business often means you have to be in three places at once; in the present – overseeing day-to-day activities and ensuring things run smoothly; reflecting on what’s happened in the past, and planning for the future. Nobody knows this better than Michael and Jackie Watt, Directors of Dumfries business Thomsons Foodservice.

Established in 1987, Thomsons Foodservice is still a family owned supplier of high-quality products to the foodservice industry. With a fleet of multi-temperature vehicles, Thomsons deliver fresh meats, chilled, frozen and ambient foods -  together with cleaning and hygiene products -  across the South of Scotland and beyond.

Michael contacted Business Gateway Dumfries & Galloway in early 2018, looking for advice on how to promote the first Thomsons Foodservice Trade Show - a business-to-business event for the food industry to make new business connections and reach new customers. Through Business Gateway, they accessed support from the Growth Accelerator Programme (GAP). Funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the European Regional Development Fund, GAP supports growing businesses by providing support for key business sectors, including food and drink, tourism and digital.

With the Trade Show less than six weeks away, promotion of the event and creating an online buzz was the top priority.  Jackie and Michael met with Mark Geddes, GAP's Economic Development Officer for the Food and Drink sector and after an initial discussion around the business' immediate priorities, Mark introduced them to Lindsey Mason Ross, GAP's Digital Business Adviser.

 With no social media presence to date, Michael and Jackie were unsure where to start, and Lindsey was able to help by first explaining each social media platform's features and benefits so that Michael and Jackie could evaluate and identify the most appropriate channels to publicise and promote the Trade Show.

With help from GAP, and one to one support from Lindsey, Jackie set up a Facebook business page, an Instagram account, and a Twitter profile:

 "We were so busy running the business, dealing with suppliers, customer orders, and coordinating deliveries, we just didn't have time to think about social media. We knew we had a bit of catching up to do, so the immediate support we had from GAP helped us establish a presence on social media which gave us a platform to engage with potential suppliers and customers  - and of course raise awareness of the Trade Show. Lindsey was also able to provide us with three days of specialist consultancy for our longer-term digital marketing strategy through Business Gateway's Digital Boost programme".

 Due to the success of the inaugural Show in April, Jackie plans to make the Thomsons Foodservice Trade Show a bi-annual event. Meanwhile, their social media has gone from strength to strength, meaning that suppliers and customers can learn about new products, industry news and services as soon as they launch.

 "The next step for us is to push forward with our plans for online ordering which will have a real impact on our order fulfilment processes, and we're still able to tap into support via Mark and the wider team at GAP to make that happen.  We're also in touch with GAP's Economic Development Officer Shelley Bell who's been providing us with expert advice for the next phase of our business growth".

  Twenty staff work in various roles from office and sales to warehousing and distribution:

 "It's been a great year for Thomsons Foodservice. As well as the strides we've made with our online presence and business growth, we were over the moon to win an award at the D&G Chamber of Commerce awards earlier this year, and that recognises the hard work and commitment of the whole team".

 It's never too early to think about the festive season when you work in the food industry, so the team at Thomsons are gearing up for the busy winter season with exciting new products and ideas for festive dining.