Salmon that’s kiln roasted by a family-run smokery in Argyll and Bute has proved so popular with Waitrose shoppers that the company is now supplying three of the company’s Scottish stores.
The Argyll Smokery – run by partners, Allan McDougall and Karen Baxter – first won a contract to supply Waitrose’s Newton Mearns store where their hand-crafted, kiln-roasted smoked salmon has been flying off the shelves.
Now the couple have won a contract to supply Waitrose’s two Edinburgh stores.
The contract marks the end of a very successful first year in business for the Argyll Smokery which this month won a Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) New Business Start Up Award, hot on the heels of three, 2-star Gold awards in the UK-wide Great Taste Awards.
The awards are welcome recognition for the couple who set up in their thriving smokery exactly a year ago.
They both have years of experience in the industry, having met at Loch Fyne Oysters where they both worked for many years before finally striking out on their own.
Sourcing the finest salmon farmed in sea lochs on the west coast of Scotland, Karen and Allan specialise in creating small, handcrafted batches of their smoked foods which include Argyll Smoked Salmon, Hot Kiln Roasted Smoked Salmon, smoked trout, mussels, prawns, scallops and homemade fish pates.
They manage all aspects of the Dunoon-based business themselves: in a typical day they will hot smoke the fish, slice and pack it, despatch, deliver and market their products.
Karen and Allan won their original contract to supply Waitrose through a Scotland Food & Drink Meet the Buyer event where producers pitch to buyers in a Dragons’ Den style format.
Oliver O’Mara of the Local and Regional sourcing team for Waitrose, explained that they’re always interested in discovering new producers with delicious products. He said:
“The Argyll Smokery is the kind of supplier we love to work with: hand-crafted and produced with passion, using the finest natural ingredients - and most importantly, their smoked fish is wonderfully succulent and delicious.”
Waitrose is the only supermarket that The Argyll Smokery work with, although the company supplies many quality hotels, delicatessens, farm shops and dedicated foodies with home delivery mail-order. Allan said they’re trying to build the business and hope that as Waitrose opens more stores in Scotland, they’ll grow with them. He said:
“We enjoy working with Waitrose because it’s like dealing with a small store even though they’re a big company. We’re on first name terms with all the buying team. We believe that we’re adding value to their business by supplying a distinctive, hand-crafted product and they’re adding value to ours with their expertise and advice.”
Waitrose already work with three other suppliers from Argyll & Bute who come under the Food from Argyll umbrella body: Inverawe, Henshelwoods Chutneys and Gigha Island halibut. Gigha Halibut supply Waitrose exclusively among UK supermarkets and are now stocked in 70 branches across the UK.
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Notes to Editors
1. The Argyll Smokery’s Hot Kiln Roasted Smoked Salmon is now available in Waitrose stores at Newton Mearns and at Comely Bank and Morningside in Edinburgh. For more information about The Argyll Smokery visit http://www.argyllsmokery.com
2. Waitrose is part of the John Lewis Partnership and is owned by its employees, called Partners. There are now 748 Waitrose partners in Scotland. Waitrose has announced plans for new stores in Stirling and Helensburgh; subject to planning permission being granted, these would open for business in early 2013.
3. Waitrose is Britain’s favourite supermarket according to the Which? Annual Supermarket Satisfaction Survey 2011.
4. Suppliers and producers interested in supplying Waitrose need to meet the requirements of the Small Producers Charter. See the website for more information.
5. Waitrose have held a Meet the Buyer event before every new store opening in Scotland, where the Regional Sourcing team meet with producers. Following a Meet the Buyer organised by Scotland Food and Drink for Waitrose Newton Mearns - which opened in May 2011 - nine new suppliers were signed up including some very small producers and suppliers who just wanted to supply one or two stores. Among those was The Argyll Smokery and Just Add Chilli run by a producer who makes her condiment by hand at home, less than a quarter of a mile from the store.