New Pitsligo bakery saved

John Smith & Sons Bakery in New Pitsligo.
John Smith & Sons Bakery in New Pitsligo.

The future of more than 25 jobs in New Pitsligo has been secured following the purchase of John Smith & Sons bakery by the Fraserburgh Development Trust.

The Trust has now completed the acquisition of John Smith &Sons Bakery New Pitsligo Ltd, following the retiral of the present owner John Smith.

The bakery has existed in New Pitsligo since 1903 and the Trust has insured that the present employees will continue their employment and that the bakery will continue to trade under the name of John Smith and Sons New Pitsligo.

The Trust has been working with John Smith, of John Smith & Sons, to conclude a deal that would mean the bakery would operate as a Social Firm, which means that any surplus generated will go towards building the business and developing future training and employment opportunities.

Chairman of Fraserburgh Development Trust commenting on the acquisition, Ian Watson said: “The Trust is delighted that we were able to continue the jobs into the future and the John Smith bakery name and its importance as the biggest employer in New Pitsligo continues.

“The plan by the Trust is to build for the future in new Pitsligo and to move from the old bakery building to new premises, ideally in the next two years. A site and plans for the new bakery and training facility has been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council for their consideration.”

The Trust have already received development grant funding from the BIG Lottery to carry out an extensive public consultation exercise in the village and for the design team to work on layout and scope of the proposed new bakery and training centre.

Former owner of the bakery Mr John Smith, who was determined that the business continued to operate in New Pitsligo, said: “Obviously, I have mixed feelings with my having to give up a lifetime’s work, as I am the last of the Smith line involved in this bakery business. However, I am very pleased to know that the business is going to continue and that the jobs will continue in the future. Hopefully, the bakery will be going for another 100 years.

“Without a doubt, it would have been a disaster for New Pitsligo if the jobs had been lost.”

The news of the acquisition was also welcomed by the Secretary of New Pitsligo Community Council, who said:“New Pitsligo Community Council has discussed, individually and with FDT, the proposals for a new bakery at New Pitsligo.

“The plans to employ existing staff, disadvantaged people and making provision for training young persons will be so advantageous also because New Pitsligo is such a large village we need to have plenty opportunity of employment.

“All members are 100 percent behind the Fraserburgh Development Trust with their vision and plans.”

A spokesperson for Buchan Development Trust said: ‘This exciting business is at a pivotal stage in its development. Local people have overwhelmingly supported this project as evidenced from the consultation carried out over the last few months.

“Children and young people have also contributed to show support of the heritage and importance of retaining the bakery in the village. Buchan Development Partnership is happy to continue to support this initiative to bring more training opportunities and keep the bakery and work in the village.’

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said: “John Smith & Sons is a major employer in New Pitsligo and this announcement means that not only are the jobs there secure but the proud tradition of baking in New Pitsligo which has been on the go for over 100 years can continue.

“This will be an exciting venture for the firm, for Fraserburgh Development Trust and for the village as it will involve a move to new, purpose-built premises and a change in how the bakery operates, while maintaining employment and the products which have proved so popular for generations.”

Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond added: “John Smith & Sons bakery is a pillar of the community in New Pitsligo. As the single largest employer in the village, and supplier to many rural shops in the North-east, it is vital to the local economy.”

“I am delighted that the brand will continue; that jobs will be maintained; and that a focus on tradition, training, and progress is being pursued. I hope that the Fraserburgh Development Trust will continue to be successful as it pursues further funding.”