Demand for lockdown 'pick me up treats' sees Scots ice cream maker book record sales

Karin, Mac and Kirstin Mackie at Westertown Farm, Aberdeenshire. Picture: Ross Johnston/Newsline MediaKarin, Mac and Kirstin Mackie at Westertown Farm, Aberdeenshire. Picture: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media
Karin, Mac and Kirstin Mackie at Westertown Farm, Aberdeenshire. Picture: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media
Ice cream maker Mackie’s of Scotland has committed to investing in its green future after record annual sales.

The Aberdeenshire firm, which also produces chocolate bars, saw revenues nudge up 1 per cent to £16.7 million in the year to the end of May 2020, despite the impact from the initial period of lockdown.

Operating profits grew by 61 per cent to £3.4m. Chocolate sales jumped 46 per cent after recipe refinements helped secure further supermarket listings and “buyer loyalty”.

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As the family firm began construction of a £4.5m low-carbon refrigeration system that will become one of the most advanced in Europe, it also saw net assets increase by 18 per cent to just under £18.6m.

Mac Mackie, managing director and one of three sibling owners of the business, said: “These stellar results are made all the more impressive when we consider that we were ‘competing’ against the previous financial year, which accounted for the record heatwave summer of 2018.

“We broke all our own records then – and thought it would be very difficult to match that in the following year.

“With the first lockdown period in March, and the last quarter of the financial year, we initially witnessed a panic buying rush as the public filled freezers and baskets with staples – and not ice cream.

“For a few weeks, demand for take-home tubs of ice cream fell and our foodservice accounts sadly ground to a near halt, including temporary closure of our own 19.2 parlour in Aberdeen.

“However, we are very fortunate that ice cream sales quickly recovered, with increased demand as consumers seek a little luxury or pick me up treat while in lockdown at home.

“To see revenue increase, by even a small margin, is a credit to everyone in our team, we’ve had to be fleet of foot, to be able to keep working, at home and remotely, while creating and incorporating the many new safety procedures required.”

Staff numbers increased to 91, from 83, with additional staff recruited for ice cream production, to help manage increased demand along with the need to work for longer hours in smaller groups, to ensure full distancing.

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The 19.2 ice cream parlour managed to continue service with home delivery operation Deliveroo, however it has had to close during some lockdown periods.

Mackie’s – based on the fourth-generation Westertown Farm – said it would continue to invest profits into the long-term sustainability of the business, which is already carbon positive thanks in part to four major wind turbines and a ten-acre solar farm.

This coming year will see it complete the construction of its new low-carbon refrigeration system, said to be the first of its kind in Scotland. It is projected to reduce energy use by up to 80 per cent.

The brand has enjoyed a strong start to 2021, with a recent study from Kantar Worldpanel showing that UK demand for premium ice cream has accelerated during the last year, with Mackie’s experiencing a 37 per cent growth in sales, second only to one other premium brand.

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Lockdown passion for premium ice cream benefits Mackie’s of Scotland as sales su...

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