As Scottish bakery Fisher & Donaldson celebrates its centenary, director Ben Milne reveals the formula he believes will keep the business healthy for the next 100 years.
From humble beginnings 100 years ago, with a small shop in Cupar, Fisher & Donaldson now has seven outlets across Fife and Tayside and a state-of-the-art bakery.
Fisher & Donaldson began operating in 1919 after founders Willie Fisher and David Donaldson returned from war. The business was later purchased by Fisher’s nephew Alexander Milne, who had helped out in the bakery for many years, and has since passed through four generations of the Milne family.
The business began with the purchase of a small premises in Fife, Scotland, followed in 1942 by a second in St Andrew’s that is now Fisher & Donaldson’s flagship store.
In 1965, Alexander’s son Grant Milne took ownership of the business and expanded it into Dundee. Two of Grant’s five sons – Sandy and Eric – followed in 1975, and Eric’s son Ben joined the business in 1990.
Ben was aged 10 when he began helping out in the business by cleaning the baking tins on a Saturday. He has since performed a range of roles including serving customers, working the night shift in the bakery and as a chocolatier.
He is now a director alongside his father and uncle, who still remain in the company.
In 2005, Ben oversaw the purchase, design and build of the new state-of-the-art bakery in Cupar and became the bakery manager when the two existing bakeries merged there. Ben is now learning the ropes in the lead-up to Sandy and Eric’s retirement.
The business operates mostly for retail, preparing goods to sell in its seven shops across Fife and Tayside. Each has a bakery counter and handmade chocolate display, and five of the seven also operate tearooms, serving breakfast and lunch.
As the business celebrates its centenary year, Ben and his sisters, Jade and Chloe, hope to take what the business does well and build on it, securing its position as a well-loved, traditional Scottish bakery.
“I think our success is down to quality first and foremost; we have always strived to make the best products we can,” says Ben.
“Our aim is to leave the business on a firm footing to allow it to continue for another 100 years or more.”
1919: Willie Fisher and David Donaldson return from World War One and purchase a small bakery premises in Cupar, Fife
1942: Fisher’s nephew, Alexander Milne, buys the business and a second shop opens
1965: Alexander’s son Grant Milne takes over the business
1975: Two of Grant’s sons, Sandy and Eric, join the business
1996: Ben Milne leaves school and joins the firm full time
2005: Bakery HQ moves to a new state-of-the-art facility in Cupar and Eric’s son, Ben, becomes bakery manager
2019: The business celebrates its centenary year