- Keith Smith
- 27 September 2018
South Lanarkshire's expanding Border Biscuits are proving themselves a pioneering company as well as a successful one
Just a couple of miles from New Lanark, where social reformer and philanthropist Robert Owen pioneered his vision of a model community in the 1800s, a modern manufacturer is operating in a similar spirit.
Having started with just four workers back in 1984, Border Biscuits is now one of the area's key employers, with over 150 personnel at their South Faulds Road production facility.
The Lanark-based biscuiteers now sell over 100 million biscuits worldwide annually and part of that success can be attributed to the loyalty of their workforce, says production manager Elaine Bone: 'People are the heart and soul of our operation; almost a third of my colleagues have been at the company for at least ten years and we genuinely enjoy working together.'
That longevity also ensures high standards, with five employees making up a tasting panel that meets regularly to not only sample potential new products, but monitor the continued quality of existing favourites as well.
And while there can't be many perks better than being paid to munch your way through a mountain of biscuits, there's plenty more to make the workplace attractive besides. Having introduced the Living Wage for permanent operatives in 2015, the firm then redesigned their production schedules at the beginning of 2018, moving to a five-day operation, to ensure that staff got each weekend off.
And just like Robert Owen, the organisation also recognises the value of ensuring that the local community, where many of their workers live, is as pleasant and agreeable as possible. That's why they donate 10% of their annual profits to good causes in the area, and offer workers additional paid annual leave to volunteer with Lanark Community Development Trust and Clydesdale Community Initiatives. 'The team from Border Biscuits have lent a hand with a number of our projects,' says Niall McShannon, director of Clydesdale Community Initiatives. 'The staff are always really enthusiastic and their help has been invaluable and enabled us to go from strength to strength.'
Maybe it's no surprise then that they've had good cookie-karma in recent years. Firstly they secured a multi-million pound investment in 2016, allowing an overhaul in production and branding. The company then subsequently forced its way into the Scottish Grocer's list of the top 20 biggest food brands in the country, and their chocolate ginger biscuit line has become the top-seller in the UK, outselling all own-label varieties combined, with both of those feats recognised with two prizes at the 2018 Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Awards.