Fife timber specialist James Donaldson & Sons sees 6th generation take helm

Timber specialist James Donaldson & Sons has announced its new senior team, representing the sixth generation of the family to run the business.

From left: Andrew, Neil and Michael Donaldson. Picture: contributed.
From left: Andrew, Neil and Michael Donaldson. Picture: contributed.

Brothers Andrew and Michael Donaldson take over as chief executive and chairman respectively as the Glenrothes-based business celebrates its 160th anniversary, in what it says is a “momentous” year for the group.

Andrew Donaldson was named chief executive in April, with Michael Donaldson starting as chairman on 31 July. The CEO joined the family business in 2010, becoming group finance director in 2019. He takes over the top job from Scott Cairns. Michael Donaldson joined the group in 2003, and takes over as chairman when his father Neil retires.

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In their new roles, Andrew is responsible for the commercial and trading performance of the business, while Michael will lead the main supervisory board, which comprises chairman, four non-executive directors, finance director and chief executive. Both brothers will be involved in developing strategy and driving the group forward, as they co-lead and co-manage the business.

Neil Donaldson said: “It was always my hope that the business would be passed on to the next generation, so for both Andy and Mike to be taking on the reins is an ideal scenario and a proud moment for me. The business is a very different one to the one I started running in 1985, and I’m pleased to be leaving it on a high and in such good hands.

“The transition from one generation to the next has been well considered and planned for over the last ten years, and I’m confident that both Andy and Mike will do an excellent job in their roles.”

Andrew Donaldson says: “We were brought up with our father and grandfather leading the business, so their moral compass is at the forefront of all we do – nothing will change in terms of the Donaldson ambitions or principles. Our focus will always be good governance; partnerships with our suppliers and customers; and looking after our loyal employees. However, we’re ready to take the group into the next generation and put our stamp on it, which is an incredibly exciting prospect.”

Michael Donaldson adds: “Andrew and I spent our summers working in the family business, and we’ve spent the last ten years preparing to take over the leadership. The last two years in particular have offered serious training for the roles... Despite the incredibly difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time of taking over, dealing with the impact of Covid-19, things are off to a great start for us and we have some ambitious plans for the business.”

The group comprises seven subsidiaries, trading from 31 sites throughout the UK, with more than 1,000 employees and a turnover of about £225 million. The business started life as a timber merchant in Tayport in 1860.

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