Bute Island Foods has secured a national supply contract with Asda to produce three vegan ice creams under the retailer’s Free From brand.

The new ice cream lines, vanilla, salted caramel and chocolate, will be available in 537, 233 and 204 stores respectively across the UK.

Last summer, the family run company, which has supplied all Asda’s dairy-free cheese since January 2018, launched two new vegan cheese lines - Asda Free From Blue Alternative and Asda Free from Double Gloucester Alternative.

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Antonia Quither, quality control manager at Bute Island Foods, explained the move into ice cream creation, said: “Our focus is very much centred on offering Asda customers new, interesting, and deliciously indulgent, plant-based products.

"We have been developing vegan and free from cheeses since 1994, and given our expertise, the creation of a free from ice cream with inclusions such as chocolate and salted caramel was next on the list.

"We know people will love the ice cream as it really delivers on taste.

“The business is in a period of rapid growth to meet the increase in demand for our products and this national contract with Asda will help to create many new jobs on the Isle of Bute, which is fantastic news.”

Heather Turnbull, Asda’s regional buying manager Scotland, said: “At Asda we love working in collaboration with our local suppliers to create innovative products for our customers.

"We have seen continued demand for variety and newness in the free from and vegan categories, so we are really excited to bring three flavours of free from ice cream to the UK market. It is a real testament to Bute Island Foods experience and heritage in this field – the products are amazing."

The value of the contract ahs not been disclosed. 

Scottish tourism businesses should target people from the UK and Germany as they try to recover from the lockdown, according to researchers.

As part of a major data project, University of Edinburgh Business School is helping with a recovery plan for the tourism industry by highlighting which visitors are most interested in travelling to Scotland and can afford it.

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The project, in association with the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), shows UK visitors are the largest group interested and able to afford a visit.

Looking outside the UK, the project said Germany should be targeted next as data showed that visitors were showing a strong interest and would not have to self-isolate on arrival.

Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, and Poland should be targeted afterwards as countries which are classed as "will be able to visit soon".

The project was led by Dr Ewelina Lacka, lecturer in digital marketing and analytics at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

She said: "We used data from internet search engines, consumer confidence indexes, web traffic and information from members of the ETAG to help build a strong picture of where marketing is best targeted in the weeks and months ahead.

"Getting information on consumer confidence is key as we enter a long period of economic uncertainty. Tourism businesses need to know whether people are likely to spend on visits, not just whether they are interested."

A visualisation tool has been developed and is freely available online at tourism-insights-scotland.co.uk.

The colour-coded global map will provide monthly updates on key visitor markets as new data become available.

Tourism businesses are encouraged to use the tool regularly to monitor changes over time.

Dr Lacka added: "Although international travel will resume, the domestic market will play a key role for some time.

"Although the US represents the second-largest visitor group to Scotland, it is worth noting web traffic data indicating that although they are interested in visiting, they don't seem to be making firm travel plans.

"Instead, it seems clear that Germany should be the first overseas market that tourism businesses in Edinburgh and across Scotland prepare to target.

"The visitor economy is of crucial importance to Edinburgh and Scotland, and I hope the material we have produced inspires business owners in their recovery plans."

Retail landlord Hammerson is set to raise more than £800 million as it sells its 50% stake in European shopping centre owner VIA Outlets and asks shareholders to chip in.

The company which owns Union Square, Aberdeen, and Silverburn, Glasgow,said that the moves will help it pay down a massive debt bill, reducing it to around £2.2 billion.

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It means a major retreat from parts of the European market, where VIA is a big player.

The business owns 11 premium outlets in nine European countries, with 1,130 stores in total, giving it the third largest portfolio by area on the continent.

Hammerson said it had hashed out a deal to sell VIA to its partner APG, a Dutch pension fund for £274 million.

It also plans to ask investors to help them out by buying another £552 million of new shares in the company.

It will plough the cash into paying down debt, and investing in a transformation of the business.

Chief executive David Atkins pronounced the end of the way shops are rented in the UK, saying it was in dire need of change.

"The pandemic has exacerbated structural shifts in retail, exerting further pressure on both property owners and brands, and provided further evidence that the UK's historic leasing model has served its time," he said.

"It is outdated, inflexible and needs to change."

It was a sentiment echoed by managing director Mark Bourgeois.

"Shopping is fundamentally changing," he told the PA news agency, as he set out the company's plans of how to change with it.

The plan mixes new ideas with old ones taken from the continent.

At the moment, much of the UK high street is governed by a framework that was put in place in 1954 where tenants sign long leases, with rents reviewed every five years.

Then at the end of the leases, prices would be renegotiated based on the cost per square foot of another shop close by, even if that was comparing a clothes shop with a stationer.

Now Hammerson hopes to move away from that model, Mr Bourgeois said. Rents will be more tailored to the tenant, and take into account how the store is performing.

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