Sainsbury has stepped up its commitment to Scottish suppliers and customers by launching a dedicated buying unit for Scotland.

The retailer said that the team would work to ensure that Sainsbury developed the right range of food for customers in Scotland, as well as maximising the sourcing and promotion of Scottish-sourced and branded food.

It will be made up of six full-time employees, headed by regional buying manager James Laws. Laws was previously regional buying manager for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Northern England and through this position is well-known in the Scottish agri-food sector. In August last year he also headed a dedicated regional buying unit in Northern Ireland for Sainsbury.

Laws will be joined on the team by category and marketing assistant Paul Gordon and Scottish buyer Vicky Lawless, who was most recently duty manager for Sainsbury's Straiton store in Midlothian, but has also worked as a produce and grocery buyer.

Three supply chain employees will also help the management of logistics operations.

Laws said: "The buying unit will cement our relationship with local suppliers and bring ever more exciting and high quality products to customers."

Donny Rumsby, regional operations manager for Sainsbury, added: "We now spend approximately £350m each year on local Scottish products and the opening of this unit is the next step in ensuring that Sainsbury, our customers and our suppliers get full value out of our relationship with home grown producers."