Capacity at Dean’s of Huntly will increase by 70% once construction of a new production area is completed this summer as part of a three-stage, £1.6 million investment programme, writes Ian Martin.

Work has already begun on extending the production area at Huntly from 40,000 to 60,000sq ft. According to Bill Dean, managing director of the hand-baked shortbread, home-style biscuit and oatcake manufacturer, this will “give us the capability to take the whole site from around £6m to £10m in (annual) turnover”.

Phase one of the investment project is due for completion in July and will be followed by the addition of office, staff and development kitchen facilities by early next year. The final phase of the development programme, scheduled to be completed by Easter 2007, involves the construction of a café and a gallery enabling visitors to view the entire production area.

Development of the Huntly facility will remove some of the constraints currently hindering business growth, according to Mr Dean. “This is the biggest investment the business has ever had,” he said. “Hopefully, we will be able to go after some bigger slices of business that we are not able to take on right now.” Around two-thirds of Dean’s turnover comes from major UK multiples, including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Remaining sales are split between the foodservice, wholesale, gift and export markets.

Dean’s of Huntly now employs some 140 people but the expansion programme is expected to create at least 30 additional jobs over the next two to three years. The company is aiming to increase turnover by around 25% to £7.5m over the same period.