SFMT announces new president
Tom Courts of Tom Courts Quality Foods in Fife has been installed as the new president of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Associations (SFMTA).
The second-generation butcher is set to lead Scotland’s independent meat retailers for the next two years, representing over 400 butchers at all levels.
And Courts (50), who runs his own store in his hometown of Burntisland, predicts a positive future for those independent butchers willing to work hard, adapt and invest.
Commenting on his new post, Courts said: “Scotland’s independent butchers have cemented their position at the heart of communities right across the country during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
“We have worked long and hard hours at risk on the frontline to keep supplies flowing, reacting magnificently to a need and going the extra mile for our customers and neighbourhoods.
“The public has supported us in return and we have to harness and protect that endorsement and goodwill as we move forward.”
He warned of the need to have an eye on the future shape of the trade and to avoid complacency.
“There may now be only a fraction of the number of local butchers there were in the early ’70s in Scotland but I believe they have a strong future and that those currently helping to keep Scotland fed are the best of the best.”
“We are in an era of convenience and it is important that we continue to move with the times and stay on trend,” he said. “I have often described younger generations as food illiterate, but these people are our future market and we will have to meet their needs rather than the other way around.
“If that means more preparation, packing and labelling of meals – and indeed electronic ordering and home delivery – then so be it.”
Courts has worked in the trade since he was 13 years old with two career breaks along the way – first to study accountancy at university and later to pursue a career with the former Fife Constabulary.
“There’s something about this trade that keeps pulling me back,” he said. “I fell in love with it as a young boy and I’ve no regrets at coming back to it time and time again.”
During his presidency, Courts also intends to turn the spotlight on the next generation of Scottish butchers, emphasising recruitment and training: “There are many great butchery businesses in Scotland with a rising generation of young guns not short on ambition,” he said.
“While staff recruitment may be an issue, it is imperative that the Federation and member butchers continue to drive young talent into the trade.
“Whilst some may say that customers are your biggest asset, I believe that the team you surround yourself with are more important. We must train them well and reward them well – our future depends on them.
“There may now be only a fraction of the number of local butchers there were in the early ’70s in Scotland but I believe they have a strong future and that those currently helping to keep Scotland fed are the best of the best.
“It’s my very great honour to serve as their President and represent their interests as we go forward.”
Courts follows Dundee butcher Scott Jarron in the president’s post and paid tribute to his work over the past two years: “The entire Jarron family is to be commended for their commitment to the trade in Scotland,” said Courts. “Scott’s father and uncle were both presidents of the Federation and his brother George is currently president elect.”
Photograph: Tom Courts, president of the SFMTA.