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The Entrepreneurial Exchange Awards 2004

The Entrepreneurial Exchange has awarded its highest accolade – Entrepreneur of the Year – to Bill Hazeldean who, in the last ten years, has developed Macrae Food Group into the largest UK producer of ready-to-eat seafood, with a turnover of £87 million.

Simon Howie of Simon Howie Limited was the winner in the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year category, which recognises an individual the panel believes is growing a business of outstanding potential.

Hazeldean and Howie were presented with their awards during a gala dinner at the Glasgow Hilton on Thursday, November 25.

A 30-year veteran of the UK food industry and something of a specialist in transforming underperforming businesses into vibrant growing concerns, Edinburgh-born Hazeldean formed Macrae Food Group in 1994 to launch a management buy-out of Foodmark’s Peterhead factory. This marked the start of a decade-long programme of acquisitions and organic growth for the seafood processing firm, culminating in its sale to Young’s Bluecrest four months ago for more than £40m.

During his ten years at the group’s helm, Hazeldean transformed Macrae from a relatively one-dimensional marinades business employing 40 people, into the largest ready-to-eat seafood producer in the UK with a staff of 1,300. In the same period, the group’s turnover grew from £1m to £87m.

Macrae now boasts a 30 percent share of the ready-to-eat seafood market and is responsible for more than half of the UK’s smoked salmon produce. It supplies all the major UK retail multiples and has cultivated close working partnerships with Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

Despite resigning the chairmanship of Macrae at the time of its sale, Hazeldean is not bowing out of the cut and thrust of business, having indicated an appetite for returning to work within the food sector that he has already impacted upon so significantly.

Hazeldean was selected from a final shortlist that also included John Kennedy of property group Kenmore and Alan Kinney and Jim McGonigle who were jointly nominated for high street fashion chain d2.

In the emerging entrepreneur category, Simon Howie saw off the challenges of Giles Insurance’s Chris Giles and Clift Graham of Lanarkshire-based ECG Group.

Former butcher’s apprentice Howie is fast becoming a household name. Crowned Scotland’s ‘Haggis King’ after securing a deal to supply the dish to Sainsbury’s stores across the UK, Howie has also forged a lucrative £2.5million-a-year partnership with the supermarket to run its Scottish meat counters under his own brand name. With deals to supply Morrisons, Safeway, Spar, Sommerfield and Co-op also wrapped up, Howie’s butchery business has proven that not only can independents compete with supermarkets – they can convince the so-called big boys to join forces.

A farmer’s son from Perthshire, the 37-year-old opened his first butcher’s shop in Dunning in 1986 at the age of 19. By 1995 he had increased his holdings to a chain of four award-winning shops and had established a booming business in the catering trade, supplying more than 150 hotels and restaurants, including Gleneagles and the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews.

Howie’s butchery business tells only part of his story. Always quick to spot a gap in the market, the entrepreneur has established successful laminate fabricator, fridge and electrical goods recycler and property development companies. Shore Laminates has supplied wall panels for many major contracts including the new terminal buildings at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, the Scottish Office in Leith, and Standard Life’s Edinburgh headquarters. Rossco Properties, a commercial and industrial property development firm with assets worth more than £5m, completes Howie’s business interests.

Chris Gorman, vice chairman of the Entrepreneurial Exchange and chair of the judging panel, said: “As ever, choosing the winners was an extremely difficult task but I am delighted to declare Bill Hazeldean Entrepreneur of the Year 2004. Bill has been working away for years, building Macrae into a significant force in the food industry, and he is a worthy winner. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Bill will go on to do next. 

“The judging panel was also hugely impressed by Simon Howie’s dynamism. He has proved adept at spotting new opportunities and is quick to act upon his instincts and capitalise on novel areas of business. Definitely one to watch.”

This evening, the Exchange also welcomes two inductees into its Hall of Fame - Keith Miller of The Miller Group and Gordon Baxter of Baxters Food Group.

Exchange chairman Jim McColl said: “The two Hall of Fame inductees have made massive contributions to Scotland’s entrepreneurial spirit over the years and I think it’s important to recognise individuals who will inspire this country’s entrepreneurs for years to come.” 

David Leslie, corporate finance partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: 'Ten years ago PwC committed itself to supporting the development of entrepreneurship. This included helping to establish the Exchange's awards event.  We enjoy working with many of Scotland's best known and up and coming entrepreneurs and will continue to do so.  We share their passion for success and are pleased to play our part in supporting this pool of talent.”

Brian Johnston, Bank of Scotland’s head of corporate added: 'Our congratulations go to both of tonight's winners. The Bank of Scotland is pleased to continue its involvement with the Scottish entrepreneurial community. We have a track record in backing entrepreneurs and our commitment and attitude to this continues, particularly in assisting companies to grow in today's global economy.”

 


Review of the Year 2004
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