SAOS Chief Executive Announces Intention to Step Down

SAOS is recruiting for a new Chief Executive after James Graham informed the Board that he wishes to step down from the role in 2019, after almost 21 years in post.

Mark Clark, Chairman of SAOS and Managing Director of Grampian Growers, said: “Thanks to James, SAOS has a unique culture that embraces innovation, and he has attracted and retained an exceptional staff team. Over his tenure, the organisation has built on its core values of co-operation and collaboration, securing lead roles in supply chain development and the development of ScotEID, Scotland’s livestock traceability system. At the same time, SAOS’ strategic support and training services for agricultural co-ops have stepped up substantially.”

Mr Clark added: “James leaves SAOS in excellent shape for his successor and we now begin the search for that person. We’re looking for an action-orientated, strategic thinker, who is commercially-minded, practical and motivated to lead innovation in the industry. They will need to demonstrate that they can lead the strong SAOS team, and exert influence at this formative time for agricultural, food industry and rural policies.”

James Graham SAOS CEOJames will continue to champion and influence the case for agricultural co-operation and supply chain collaboration in Scotland Food & Drink strategies and in government policies. He commented: “After a challenging, but rewarding, 20 years, it’s time for someone else to take lead responsibility at SAOS, but I look forward to supporting my successor in any way I can.”

The job application pack is at


SAOS Vacancy – Chief Executive Application Pack

SAOS Update for Autumn ’18 now online

Our latest SAOS Update is now available online 

Read how the weather has affected some of our Agri Co-op members, plus lots of SAOS and co-op members’ news and innovations, including:

  • SAOS response to ScotGov’s proposals for the post-EU transition period
  • New Broccoli crisp snack brand launched by East of Scotland Growers
  • How Smart Rural really could be ‘the next big thing’
  • SAOS Next Generation award is back for 2019
  • Ringlink celebrate 30 years
  • Feedback from SAOS Member Survey
  • New Training and Development programme for Winter ’18/19
  • Get involved with Scottish Food & Drink fortnight

You can view this and earlier editions at: SAOS newsletters


NEF Co-ops Unleashed

We have just added a new report to our Resource Library which will be of interest to students of co-operatives.

More than half of UK company equity is owned abroad and only just over 12% by individuals. The interests of those who own Britain’s businesses are often misaligned with those of other stakeholders, such as employees, customers, service users and local communities. NEF co-ops-unleashed  highlights the needs for a supportive policy environment, with availability of know-how to co-operators.

You can find all our resource documents and reports here: SAOS Resource Library

New Chair and Vice Chair for SAOS

Mark Clark SAOS Chairman

Mark Clark SAOS Chairman

Following our AGM, Mark Clark was appointed as the new Chairman of SAOS, succeeding George Lawrie. Our new Vice Chairman is John Hutcheson.

Mark, Managing Director of Grampian Growers, brings strong business acumen to the role, with Grampian Growers having developed and expanded their range of varieties of seed potatoes, as well as daffodil bulbs and flowers, to explore new export markets in many different areas of the world, each with its own set of challenges.

John is a Director of Tay Forth Machinery Ring, having been a member since the ring was established in 1989. He is also a Director of GrainCo Scotland and, as member of their OatCo producer group, works closely and successfully with Quaker PepsiCo, sharing the benefits resulting from a growing market for oat products.

We are delighted that Mark has accepted the role of Chairman and we look forward to working more closely with him. Mark commented: “This is a very challenging, but also exciting time to lead SAOS. The challenges to agriculture continue to increase rather than dissipate, and farm profitability is under more and more pressure, but I believe that the structure of SAOS, the strong leadership and very committed staff will result in continued success in the future. I firmly believe that greater co-operation within the industry is one of the few answers to many of the problems we face and SAOS is well-placed to facilitate the anticipated growth of the co-op sector.”

John Hutcheson SAOS Vice Chairman

John Hutcheson SAOS Vice Chairman

John agreed, adding: “SAOS continues to adapt and develop the services that our co-op members require and ensure that the correct resource is in place to do this. Rural businesses need to communicate and collaborate more with each other; I think there is further potential for Rings to work with each other in order to lower input costs and extend the range of services available. I’d also like to see more producer-controlled marketing groups for primary produce, with the aim of creating greater price leverage in the marketplace and quality assurance branding that targets specific customer requirements.”