The directors of Brandish Bute, the organisation set up to market and sell arts, crafts and food made on the island in a Rothesay shop and online, have written a letter to The Buteman to clarify the company’s position after the operation ceased trading.
Sara Goss and Peter Vincent said they wanted to “put to bed a number of Rothesay Rumours”, thanks in part to the widespread public perception, via social media and elsewhere, that Brandish Bute had received large amounts of public funding throughout the life of the operation.
The letter has also been signed by Ian Jardine, the chair of Brandish Bute’s parent organisation, the Bute Community Land Company.
Their letter states: “The business was started in May 2010 by BCLC to promote and support the produce from the island community covering art, craft and food.
“This objective was supported by grants from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and LEADER funding adn the shop was set up and equipped with funds from private individuals and an independent website created.
“During the period from May 2010 to the end of December 2012, we sold nearly £60,000 of island produce.
“We received funding of £53,000, the majority of which went to staff payments and marketing costs. We have paid rent to an island resident and presented Bute produce at 14 national and regional shows.
“No funding has been available during the last year. Nevertheless, we have relaunched the website on a much more user friendly format and the shop continued to support and promote Bute produce.
“This has required financial support from the directors and great efforts from volunteers in the hope of reaching a sustainable level of trading. Sadly we could not reach the level of sales essential for survival in this difficult economic climate.
“The directors of Brandish Bute and BCLC have concluded that they have no option other than to cease traidng to avoid further losses. We have consulted our suppliers to explore any alternatives and have endured that measures are in place to meet all outstanding commitments.
“We thank all those who have supported the venture and hope the exposure and publicity provided will be of ongoing benefit to the island producers involved.”
The directors of the operation had hoped that the Isle of Bute Artists’ Collective might take over the running of the Brandish Bute shop, in East Princes Street, as a co-operative venture, but IBAC members decided at a meeting earlier this month that the idea was not a viable one.