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February 26, 2014

Community acquisition

Setting up a new business is hard. A third of all new businesses no longer exist after 6 months. Harder still if the new business has a social mission to employ people who normally might struggle to find a job. The challenge becomes harder still if the new business with this social mission is to be owned and managed collectively by the local community rather than a business focused entrepreneur. An innovative Lottery backed programme run by Social Firms Scotland may have the answer. Don’t start up from scratch – purchase a going concern.


THE future of more than 25 jobs in New Pitsligo has been secured following the purchase of John Smith & Sons bakery by the Fraserburgh Development Trust.

The Trust has now completed the acquisition of John Smith &Sons Bakery New Pitsligo Ltd, following the retiral of the present owner John Smith.

The bakery has existed in New Pitsligo since 1903 and the Trust has ensured that the present employees will continue their employment and that the bakery will continue to trade under the name of John Smith and Sons New Pitsligo.

The Trust has been working with John Smith, of John Smith & Sons, to conclude a deal that would mean the bakery would operate as a Social Firm, which means that any surplus generated will go towards building the business and developing future training and employment opportunities.

Chairman of Fraserburgh Development Trust, Ian Watson, commenting on the acquisition, said: “The Trust is delighted that we were able to continue the jobs into the future and the John Smith bakery name and its importance as the biggest employer in New Pitsligo continues. 

“The plan by the Trust is to build for the future in new Pitsligo and to move from the old bakery building to new premises, ideally in the next two years. A site and plans for the new bakery and training facility has been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council for their consideration.”

The Trust have already received development grant funding from the BIG Lottery to carry out an extensive public consultation exercise in the village and for the design team to work on layout and scope  of the proposed new bakery and training centre.

Former owner of the bakery Mr John Smith, who was determined that the business continued to operate in New Pitsligo, said: “Obviously, I have mixed feelings with my having to give up a lifetime’s work, as I am the last of the Smith line involved in this bakery business. However, I am very pleased to know that the business is going to continue and that the jobs will continue in the future. Hopefully, the bakery will be going for another 100 years. 

“Without a doubt, it would have been a disaster for New Pitsligo if the jobs had been lost.”

The news of the acquisition was also welcomed by the Secretary of New Pitsligo Community Council, who said: “New Pitsligo Community Council has discussed, individually and with FDT, the proposals for a new bakery at New Pitsligo.

“The plans to employ existing staff, disadvantaged people and making provision for training young persons will be so advantageous also because New Pitsligo is such a large village we need to have plenty opportunity of employment.

“All members are 100 percent behind the Fraserburgh Development Trust with their vision and plans.”

Social Firms Scotland has been supporting FDT’s acquisition of the John Smith & Sons bakery since 2010 through a mergers and acquisitions programme funded by the Big Lottery. Social Firms Scotland’s CEO, Pauline Graham is delighted that everyone’s efforts have made this a reality.  She said: “We all realised the economic necessity of retaining jobs in the area, in addition to the opportunity to develop an already thriving business and employ more people within a community owned business. 

“There is a good values match between family owned businesses and social firms and we are delighted that the acquisition is now complete.  We wish the new venture every success”.