Highland cheese maker takes bigger slice of market with Waitrose and M&S success

Highland Fine Cheeses is celebrating the success of its push into lucrative English markets including being featured in Waitrose and M&S stores.

The family firm, which has been in existence since the 1950s, had until the turn of the century focused on distinctive Scottish cheeses such as Caboc and Crowdie for the domestic market. It now specialises in blue, brie and washed rind cheeses, which make up 90 per cent of its output.

Those products have attracted the attention of major wholesalers such as Rowcliffe, a UK importer and distributor of quality cheese and fine foods.

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Highland’s relationship with the Kent-based firm means that the former’s cheeses will now feature in Waitrose selection boxes sold from its deli counters across the UK.

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In another first, the Ross-shire firm’s Morangie Brie, named in celebration of the Glen of Tranquility, is being promoted by Marks & Spencer at its outlets across London.

Company owner Rory Stone, whose parents established the near-£2 million turnover business, said: “Rowcliffe has been a vital part of our expansion into the rest of the UK, and is taking our products in the direction we need to go in order to maintain what in recent years has been quite extraordinary growth.

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“We have had a long-term connection with Rowcliffe which, like us, is a family concern. Until recently, we featured primarily in its Scottish range, and achieved great sales on occasions such as Burns Night and St Andrew’s Day.

“Now it is promoting us to much bigger, UK-wide companies, which I believe is a recognition of our ability to consistently deliver a quality product and to handle the volumes which these new markets will demand.”

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Highland Fine Cheeses owner Rory Stone, whose parents established the near-£2 million turnover business, based in Tain.

Rowcliffe is now among Highland’s top five customers, taking 10 per cent of its output. Other major buyers include Aldi, Lidl, Braehead Foods and Williamson Food Service.

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Stone added: “Despite challenges in the form of soaring raw materials - milk prices have gone up by 60 per cent - as well as energy and labour costs, we are now very well positioned to flourish in a greatly expanded territory.”

Highland Fine Cheeses employs 13 people and is actively recruiting to sustain growth.

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