IN THE heart of Fivemiletown, there is a bakery specialising in small cakes that employs 120 people and produces around 250,000 packs a week, supplying the major branded stores across Ireland and throughout the UK.
A brand new production line is due to open in June which, according to the manager, George Elliott represents, ‘a significant investment’.
Seated along side his production manager, Deborah Irvine and the company accountant, Robert Coulter, he profiled the growth of the business from when it was established in Clabby in 1968 by Jack Scott.
In 1986, George’s father, Robert bought the business and extended.
Today, its UK customers include the likes of Morrisons, Asda and Aldi and, back home, Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Supervalu and ‘symbol’ groups like Centra, Spar, Mace and Costcutter.
The firms quality systems are accredited to the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Standard. (’It’s the very first thing that our clients ask us’).
“We do 20 different product lines, we operate three shifts and often work half day on Saturdays. Thankfully we have been kept busy.
“Over the last three to four years”, Mr Elliott added, “the market has been very challenging, but we have a very good team who work very hard to help us deliver quality, good service and competitive pricing.
“That has helped us to grow, both in Ireland and across the water where there is a massive market.”
Whether your preference is for mini choc cupcakes, hand iced fairy cakes or mini muffins, there is ‘moreish’ aspect to all their produce.
Mr Elliott thinks he knows the reason why “The baking is done exactly the way it was done in 1968 in that one of the things we have always tried to do is avoid having a very processed product. In other words, we have tried to maintain a home-baked quality product.”
And, that approach pays off when new products are assessed by the clientele’s ‘product taste panels’.
Unlike most firms who use sales teams to sell their product, Scott’s uses its own ‘technical and management’ people, each of whom look after key accounts.
The company’s new product development kitchen plays a vital role, working along side the bakery’s technical/quality team.
Product is gathered from production on a daily basis and tested prior to dispatch, and its personnel also develop new products to keep the category fresh – looking at seasonal opportunities, from Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
“We also send our products to independent ‘taste panels’ to ensure our product quality is best in the market!”
It has been left to Deborah Irvine to recruit the team who will be the backbone the new production line when it comes on stream in June.
George Elliott reckons she has done an excellent job, but he has a high regard for all the staff in Fivemiletown.
“We generally have a low staff turnover.
“Those staff who make it past the first few weeks and settle into the type of work that we do, really do become part of the team.”
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