The firm said that before March 2020, many of its sales had gone through high-street and independent retailers, but the outbreak of the pandemic prompted it to take stock and re-focus, and it has “emerged stronger and more profitable”.
It now turns over £2.5 million, has 24 employees at its production facility in central Fife and says it needs to expand its office and production space due to higher demand.
Just Slate was founded in 2006 by Donny Carstairs, along with his sister who does the illustrations and his brother who manages the operations.
The Kirkcaldy-based firm began by producing slate homewares, such as mats, serving trays, cheeseboards and bar ware, and has now expanded with a sustainable wood brand, Scottish Made, which produces wooden boards, platters, trays and other homewares, followed by The Linen Table that produces table linen from the last traditional mill in Scotland. Most of the products have a Scottish or country animal or scene etched onto them.
The firm says the pandemic allowed it to invest in its offering, and by August 2020 it was back in full production, since then seeing double-digit growth in sales and a “significant” increase in profits.
Mr Carstairs said: “Buying habits changed overnight and there is now more confidence in online shopping… Being a small family company, we had the flexibility to change too and very quickly changed our emphasis to selling direct from the website or through drop shipping sites, where stores, such as John Lewis, offer our products online but we ship them direct to the customers.”
The firm has also entered the corporate gifting and bespoke market, having invested significantly in its laser-etching capacity with four new machines. It offers gifts in this area such as slate or wood coasters, and one-off items for brands including British Airways, Laphroaig Whisky, and Fortnum & Mason.
Mr Carstairs also said. “Last year we sold more on the Continent than in previous years, and we are seeing that continue this year, despite the increased workload. Demand is picking up and it seems many people do have money to spend – so fingers crossed Just Slate will continue to grow.”