The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Ayrshire sausage kings Belcher Food Products
serve up sizzling profits

By: Murdoch MacDonald

THE MAN nicknamed Scotland’s sausage king has boosted his Prestwick firm Belcher Food Products’ annual profits by a massive 123 per cent.

Ephraim Belcher's return last year to hands-on management of the sausage business he founded in the 1960s has paid off with an increase in pre-tax profits from £802,000 to £1.8 million.

Although the Ayrshire company Belcher Food Products saw a 20% fall in turnover to £21.7m, which the company attributed to factors ranging from a restructuring of the management team to loss of low margin business, gross profit margins rose from 19% in 2006 to 23% in 2007.

But the company has still to return to the success of 2004, when it recorded profits of £4m.

The firm cited a series of cost reviews that led to a 23% drop in operating expenses as a driver of its success.

“None of the costs savings has been detrimental to the quality of the product produced by the company,” Belcher Food Products said in a statement.

Belcher’s return to the front-line followed a restructuring at the Prestwick-based company in March 2006 that saw the departure of his sole boardroom colleague, sales and marketing director Neil Pearson, who was replaced by William Pettigrew. Belcher and Pettigrew shared emoluments of £135,186 over the year, down from £174,234 shared by the directors the year before.

Ephraim Belcher is now the sole shareholder of the private company.

Mr Belcher, 64, started out with a butcher’s shop at Tam’s Brig in Ayr, back in the late 1960s.

Some claimed he was mad to think about expanding into factory meat processing.

But Belcher Food Products became a major supplier of frozen sausages to UK supermarkets, employing 160 people.

The firm also opened a £14 million production plant to supply cooked burgers and sausages to pubs and restaurants.

Flamboyant Mr Belcher regularly features on rich lists of Scotland’s top 10 earners.

And in 2003 he bought Cloncaird Castle (pictured above) in the countryside between Kirkmichael and Straiton.

The impressive castle boasts five reception rooms, a billiard room, 14 bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

It has 90 acres of land, fishing rights for a stretch of the River Girvan, two cottages and a stable block with a house.

Mr Belcher has gifted thousands of pounds to charity, and has also made sizeable donations to the Conservative Party.

He is regarded as a shrewd businessmen who won’t borrow from banks if he can help it.

Investments should be made out of profits rather than bank loans, he believes. And he isn’t impressed by those who set out to get rich quick.

Mr Belcher has been quoted as saying: “A business is for life. It is not about making a fast buck.”

Glenburn Food Products Ltd
Glenburn Road

Telephone: 01292 479451
Fax: 01292 671097

Thursday, 10 January 2008

New whisky website drams up business for Ayrshire hotels

A NEW website, geared to help Scotland's hospitality and tourism sector reap more economic benefit from the nation's most famous tipple, has been launched by ScotlandWhisky, the national whisky tourism initiative.

The new site has been developed and enhanced to help the growing number of 70 ScotlandWhisky Embassy members, such as Ayrshire hotels Westin Turnberry (pictured above) and Piersland House in Troon (pictured below) to promote their whisky expertise and encourage tourists to become one of over a million that visit a distillery each year. Boasting the best of latest online resources, the site will now offer dynamic maps of all the hotels and distilleries involved, a tourist photography sharing gallery and online bookable whisky tours.

The site is part of an enhanced membership package of benefits which have been further developed by the organisation to coincide with a membership fee being introduced.

Chris Conway of ScotlandWhisky commented: "Online support is just one of the many benefits on offer to tourism and hospitality businesses joining our network of Whisky Embassies. Many of our members report a significant increase in whisky sales as a direct result of employing staff who we have past through our whisky School and we are confident that those sales translate into satisfied customers who will either visit again or recommend Scotland to friends and family."

Scottish Enterprise tourism project manager Katrina Morrison commented: "Scotch Whisky is an iconic product which offers the potential to grow tourism revenues by raising awareness of Scotland as a tourism destination and also through the development of a positive and exciting experience of Whisky for existing visitors.

"Having knowledgeable staff is a key component of providing that memorable experience and we hope that this recruitment tool will help Scotland's tourism industry staff their bars and restaurants with enthusiastic and well-informed ambassadors for Scotland and the whisky industry."

With Scotch Whisky widely recognised as one of the country's most valuable tourism assets, the ScotlandWhisky initiative was launched four years ago to promote and develop whisky tourism in Scotland.

The select group of embassies mainly comprises hotels which pride themselves on employing staff who are educated and knowledgeable in the sales and service of Scotch whisky and who can offer an environment which is favourable to whisky appreciation.

Criteria required to become an Embassy include a minimum accommodation rating of three stars, an extensive range of Scotch Whisky, a conducive ambience to whisky appreciation and a select number of staff who successfully pass the Scotch Whisky School qualification. Embassies are encouraged to offer additional experiences for whisky appreciation such as whisky evenings, nosings and tastings and stays at embassies, which you can book online on the VisitScotland website

The ScotlandWhisky initiative is a partnership between the public and private sectors with the aim of exploring where the tourism and Scotch Whisky industries can work together to realist mutual commercial benefits. The project is financed by the Scotch Whisky Association, The Scotch Whisky Experience, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland.