Staff at the Edrington Group may like to get together for a good grouse — but with £180 to spend each year in the company shop of the Glasgow-based firm that makes and markets whiskies including The Famous Grouse, they are definitely not complaining.
The firm was founded by the Robertson family in Glasgow in 1860 and tries to uphold the original values of integrity, independence, involvement and innovation with an annual chairman’s award to employees who follow these principles. If a whisky or two does the staff good, it also has a salutary effect on the local community — the business filters funds back into the Robertson trust, which controls 100% of its shares and was established by three sisters and inheritors of the firm in 1961.
Charitable work is a strong theme, and the trust has given £20m to charities in the past five years: 60% of staff told us that profit is not the only thing driving the company. There is a lot of Scottish pride associated with the company’s brands too, which include the Macallan single Highland malt and Highland Park, from Orkney.
The group has recently bought a 70% stake in 1887, the firm that owns Highland Distillers, which was originally set up by the same Robertsons in the 19th century. It part-owns Cutty Sark International (which produces one of the best-established export brands of Scotch) and Lothian Distillers, and operates seven distilleries on the islands of Islay and Orkney and in the Highlands. There has been a £15m recent investment in the bottling and warehouse plant in Glasgow, which dispatches 7m cases each year.
It is, as the firm says, “the whole spectrum of the Scottish whisky industry — from cask to glass” and 79% of the 1,033 employees take great pride in their part. General workers in the bottling operation are paid £14,879 but everybody has profit-related pay, most recently 7% of salary.
With sales of just over £200m, and pre-tax profits of £49.5m the year to March 2002 (the best ever, and a jump of 12.8%), the firm is in fine health; with 25% off shares in a saving scheme that three-quarters have joined, staff can toast its success too. Benefits are praised by 74% of employees: there are visits from an occupational health nurse once a month, a final-salary pension, life insurance of four times salary and subsidised canteens at one in five sites (where the company covers all overheads and staff pay the cost of food).
The firm is family-friendly, offering 10 places at a crèche near the plant in Glasgow for £5 a day (while it covers the other £5). Anybody can work flexible hours, and 7% of staff do. Maternity pay comprises full salary for six weeks and half pay for another 12.
Meanwhile, the different sites are kept in touch with a daily newsletter and a healthy spirit of competition is fostered by pitting them against each other in regular tenpin bowling championships.
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