SIS Retail Academy to help social enterprises benefit from growth in purpose-led brands

SIS Retail Academy to help social enterprises benefit from growth in purpose-led brands

Alastair Davis, CEO of SIS

Responsible finance provider Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is offering social entrepreneurs the chance to receive mentoring and advice from some of the UK’s leading retail experts as part of its 2021 SIS Retail Academy.

Focusing this year on the growing global marketplace for purpose-led brands, the five-day programme is designed to support social entrepreneurs to bring new or existing products to the retail market. As well exploring increased consumer preference for purpose-led brands, the SIS Retail Academy will demonstrate how social enterprises can tap into greater consumer demand for the green economy.

Social enterprises taking part in the programme will receive support and advice in areas such as marketing, trend spotting and business strategy from a host of speakers and experts including digital marketing expert, Andrew Miles Davis, trends expert, Margaret McSorley Walker and Jamie Jefferson, chief creative officer and co-founder of digital agency, Equator.

SIS is welcoming participants from social enterprises and entrepreneurs beyond Scotland, inviting applications from across the UK and overseas.

The programme, which is delivered in partnership with Asda and supported by the Scottish Government, combines online workshops and skills coaching, culminating with a chance for the social entrepreneurs to pitch for live commercial opportunities.

SIS celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021, and over the years the Retail Academy has helped a number of social enterprise brands including Brewgooder to secure significant contracts with the UK’s biggest supermarkets. Other brands including Shetland Soap Company and The Blankfaces have gone on to develop their product lines and maximise their social or environmental impact.

British retail suffered its worst annual performance for sales growth on record in 2020, according to the recently published BRC-KMPG retail sales monitor.

High streets have not only been impacted by enforced shop closures, but also by growing consumer preferences for buying local and shopping online. This year’s Retail Academy will aim to support social entrepreneurs in navigating this complex environment and harnessing opportunities for growth through, for example, greater emphasis on e-commerce.

Alastair Davis, CEO of SIS, said: “Bricks and mortar and online retail environments are changing rapidly, but we believe it presents a unique opportunity for our social enterprises. More than ever, consumers are searching for goods and services from purpose-led brands that deliver a wider impact in the community.

“Through the SIS Retail Academy, as well as wider SIS initiatives, we aim to support social entrepreneurs to develop and grow, embracing the changes in consumer demand and shopping habits, which may have otherwise been seen as a challenge.”

Tim Scott, senior corporate responsibility manager at Asda, added: “Making sustainability affordable will be a key factor in growing a green economy that consumers can play an active role in supporting. We’re seeing continued changes in the way people are shopping that will pave the way forward and we’re keen to share this insight with purpose-driven brands. This year, online sales and local suppliers will be a huge focus, and we hope to see social enterprises playing an important part of that.”

Applications for the Retail Academy are now open until Thursday 11th March. For more information, visit the website

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