Gardner said the team was set up to strengthen the supermarket chain's focus in Scotland - a traditional heartland - reinforcing its understanding of the Scottish marketplace.
"With more stores than our competitors and a wider geographic spread, we are strengthening the relationship with suppliers to make trading as easy as possible," said Gardner.
"Through the new team we strive to deliver new product launches and innovation to the marketplace," he added.
Each member of Gardner's team has a role to play, he said, in that way providing an integrated approach to what Safeway is doing in Scotland.
"They undertake aspects such as marketing, training and developing new stores," he explained.
As for the thorny issue of what suppliers could do to make life easier for the Scottish trading team, Gardner has a simple formula. "Suppliers need to identify areas in the market where they have a unique product. They must also consider the area of the market they are looking at. In other words, is it only for Scotland or UK-wide?"