Retirement will be a piece of cake for long-service bakery employee

26/06/2024
Marlene Milne (Murdoch Allan)

AFTER almost half a century of dedicated service to Scotland’s bakery scene, Marlene Milne is hanging up her apron and heading for a well-deserved retirement.

Marlene has worked for third-generation Aberdeenshire bakers Murdoch Allan, which is run by husband and wife duo Paul and Katrina Allan, for over 20 years. However, her bakery journey started long before this.

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Marlene has worked in the Hatton-based factory for almost 50 years under a number of owners and in various roles across sales, administration and accountancy.

Marlene began working in the factory in 1979, back when it was still owned by Simmer’s of Hatton. Reflecting on her journey, Marlene said: “I left school at 15 to help provide for my family as I was the eldest of seven children. I started in a sales role while taking night classes to further my education. While working here over the years, I’ve seen the bakery go through many changes.”

In 2002, the Hatton bakery, which was then owned by United Biscuits, faced closure due to limited facilities and increasing sales. This left workers like Marlene wondering “What’s next?”. Simmers of Hatton had been a steady employer in the Aberdeenshire village for 114 years with whole families working in the factory. The impending closure would have been a devastating blow to the community.

After months of uncertainty, Murdoch Allan, fronted by Managing Director Paul Allan, stepped in and took over the factory. This move signified an important growth milestone for the bakers, who have been employing and serving the community ever since.

Today, the Hatton bakery is home to Murdoch Allan’s headquarters with 150,000 Aberdeen butteries,120,000 bread rolls, and 60,000 sweet treats such as yum yums, cream cookies, doughnuts, and strawberry tarts being produced every week.

Recalling the acquisition, Marlene said: “When I heard that I was facing redundancy in 2001, I thought my bakery career was over. I had come to terms with the idea of moving on to something new.

“Then, after a conversation with Paul, I was convinced to stay on at the factory and I haven’t looked back!”

Marlene first attempted retirement in May 2018 thinking that it was the right time for her. However, by that September, she found herself missing the bakery, the number crunching, and the people and asked to come back.

Paul Allan, Managing Director at Murdoch Allan, said: “At Murdoch Allan, we are not just a family-run bakery. We are a family. Every person who walks through our factory door is welcomed and treated with respect. Marlene, as well as our other long-serving staff, are a testament to this.

“We thank Marlene for her dedication to Murdoch Allan over the last 20 years. She has been an integral part of the team, and we are all sad to see her go.”

Since joining the Murdoch Allan team in 2002, Marlene has seen its headcount increase from 60 to 175.

Marlene added: “Paul, Kat, and the wider Murdoch Allan family have been amazing to work alongside and that is why it has been so hard for me to leave throughout the years. They are an inspirational team and I cannot wait to see what they continue to achieve in the years ahead.”

Murdoch Allan’s reach extends beyond Hatton, with stores in Peterhead, Turriff, Fraserburgh, and Mintlaw, as well as Thains in Aberdeen. The bakery also opened its first outlet outwith Aberdeenshire earlier this year when it took over the Teviotdale bakery in Dundee. Across its stores, Murdoch Allan employs more than 150 members of staff many of whom have been with the business for over 10 years.

And Marlene’s favourite Murdoch Allan product?  “It has to be the Aberdeen buttery!”, she exclaims.

Murdoch Allan products, including the Aberdeen buttery, are available to purchase from its outlets and local independent retailers as well as national supermarkets including Asda, Aldi, Co-op Local, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s.

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