Focus on: Nicola Maule, Wild Fig

Focus on: Nicola Maule, Wild Fig

East Kilbride catering firm Wild Fig have really seen their business take off and diversify in the last year. The private caterers, who now have their own produce line and employ four people, are proud of their Scottish Living Wage accreditation, and spent some time telling BQ why it’s such a bonus for their business.

Describe your business in no more than 100 words
We are a bespoke outside catering company that ventured into new markets in May 2015 with the first in a growing range of award winning produce.

Established in 2011 the creative skills of Justin Maule and I came together, founding a business which aimed to deliver a high quality catering service that was personal, that used the very best in locally sourced ingredients as much as possible, with no compromise on flavour.

What are pay conditions usually like for workers in your industry?
Pay is usually minimum wage and long hours are often a norm within the industry.

How long have you been paying the living wage in your business?
We have paid at least the current living wage since we launched the business 4 years ago.

It was always our intention to pay what we considered a fair wage to staff we employed regardless of age. This desire came from many years working in the hospitality industry ourselves where wages were low and the expectation of working long hours was standard.

How do your employees react to it?
When we initially advertised for staff the rate in pay, I have been told since by employees was a real plus in terms of willingness to apply. We certainly benefited from a large number of applicants with our recruitment drive. We do have a very high retention of staff and this wage, among other things, is a factor.

How would you react to someone who says – “but surely if you’re paying more salaries, you’re making less money?”
For us the driving force behind our business is the people that work with us. They are a key part, if not the most important part of making Wild Fig a success.

Where do you see your company in five years time?
One of our plans over the next few years is to further develop our range of produce and expand our reach to retailers within the UK and abroad. At the end of five years I would like to see us having a larger workforce than we have presently to reflect this growth.

What advice would you give to employers wondering if they should pay the living wage?
In some ways it really is a shame that the Living wage has had to be introduced, paying a fair wage should not be something that has to be fought and campaigned for. 

Each business has its own aims, objectives and views on the best way to grow and develop.

We started out paying above the national minimum wage when setting up our business as it was an important issue for us.

It is, of course, a bigger step to begin paying the living wage from a different position, when a business has long been established perhaps and the financial change and implications would be felt. 

I can perhaps best answer this question best by putting myself back in the position of working for a minimum wage and the impact of this.

Pay is a direct measure of value as an employee and I do remember looking at the wage slip at the end of the week, thinking how hard I had worked and soberly relating that back to the cost of living and the wages that were sitting in my pay packet. It can also very frustrating.

I remember working just as hard as my colleagues yet due to my age my hourly rate of pay, for doing exactly the same job was lower. This was not a culture I wanted to continue as a businesswoman.

The Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative is funded by the Scottish Government and works in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation.

If you’d like to find out more about Living Wage accreditation please visit: http:scottishlivingwage.orgjoin