Chairman of north-east food firm steps down

Alastair Macphie

THE CHAIRMAN of the Scottish food ingredient firm Macphie is stepping down this spring.

After 17 years as chairman, Alastair Macphie, great nephew of the company’s founder, is stepping down from the role, but will continue as a non-executive director where his intimate knowledge of the business will add value to the long-term capital investment decisions.

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Alastair Macphie joined the business in 1987, taking over from his late father as managing director in 1995. In 2007 he was made chairman and went on some years later to appoint the firm’s first non-family managing director. 

In 1995, Macphie’s turnover was £14m and since then has grown to current year revenues exceeding £73m, delivering record growth over the last three years.

Alastair Macphie said: “In four years, Macphie will mark 100 years in business. This is a remarkable achievement and one we look forward to celebrating.

“It has been 29 years since I first took on the role of managing director and it has been amazing watching the company grow. Despite the recent challenges, last year we reported record sales, double-digit growth, and healthy profitability.

“In recent years we’ve strengthened our leadership team with several key appointments – including my nephew Ed Widdowson as strategy, people and sustainability director – to lay the foundations for the next 100 years. Ed is the fourth generation of the family to be involved in the business.”

Alastair continued, “I indicated to the board some time ago my ambition to step down this year and we’ve been working at getting the business into great shape with strong leadership and a clear growth strategy; with that in place, now is the right time to make this transition”.

Macphie CEO Andy Stapley said: “Alastair has been a reassuring constant at Macphie, providing wise counsel, dedication and passion for the business and our people.

“He has overseen huge changes in the company, investing in the manufacturing capability and our people, making sure the business stays ahead of its time, leading on sustainability and meeting the changing needs of our customers.”

Alastair’s stepping down follows last year’s completion of a £5m refurbishment of its Glasgow factory, while plans are advancing for major upgrades to its Glenbervie facility.

As of 1 April, Norman Soutar will take on the role of chairman, with Andy Stapley, who has been in post since 2018, as CEO. Soutar first joined the business as a non-executive director in late 2022.

Soutar has had a highly successful executive career in the food sector, bringing over 30 years of leadership experience with household names such as Baxters, Auntie Bessie’s, and William Jackson Food Group. Soutar said, “I’ve known Macphie for many years, and I’m delighted to take up this appointment and look forward to supporting the business with its ambitious plans.”

On stepping back from the business Alastair still has plenty to keep him busy. He continues to chair the Macphie family non-food businesses and holds several non-executive directorships. It will also allow him “to concentrate his efforts in the community”. In 2020, Alastair Macphie was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, a role which he holds for the next 12 years.

Macphie is an internationally renowned ingredients manufacturer that was established in 1928 and now employs more than 250 people across its three sites.

Its vision is to be the go-to partner for food brands around the world, turning ideas and creativity into practical solutions. That and its “simply clever food” strapline reflects its passion in making life in the kitchen and bakery easier.

Sustainability has been a key element to the fourth-generation family firm. It was among the UK’s first businesses to achieve B Corp status in 2015, having successfully evidenced an unwaveringly high standard of social and environmental performance.

To find out more about Macphie, please visit:

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