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20 June 2004
Scotland on Sunday
Buccleuch Group has designs on business makeover

ONE of Scotlandís oldest and wealthiest families has turned to a design agency to give its sprawling business interests a 21st century makeover.

The 80-year-old Duke of Buccleuch, Britainís largest private landowner and head of the familyís group of companies, is embarking on a rebranding exercise ahead of investment into its range of property, food and drinks businesses.

The dukeís holding company, the Buccleuch Group, has hired Scottish design agency Tayburn to come up with a new corporate identity. The Buccleuch Group, based in Selkirk, has three divisions: commercial property, rural affairs and a food and drinks company, with an income of £30m.

Although the duke is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the business, he remains chairman of the group and is keen to safeguard the future of his familyís assets by modernising the way the business operates.

The duke is among the wealthiest people in Scotland with assets estimated at £450m. He owns about 400 square miles of land and several estates, including Drumlanrig, near Dumfries.

Richard Williamson, director of strategy at the Buccleuch Group, said the rebranding was an attempt to change the way the business was perceived.

He said the company, led by chief executive Michael Clark, should be seen as a modern, profitable business and not just a rural estates operation.

The company was gearing up for major growth and the rebranding was part of efforts to show it was a "business with a clear sense of focus on profit and a strong sense of heritage behind it".

Williamson said: "We were looking for a modern identity for a group of disparate businesses. Itís not just about being the heritage brand - itís being an active and aggressive player in the market.

"The end game for us is a brand recognisable in business circles as a business player, so that we look towards the CBI and Scottish Enterprise for our cues."

Buccleuch Property, which develops and invests in office and retail property, has around £250m of commercial property and development sites. It aims to double that to around £500m in the next two years.

The company, which recently opened an office in Edinburgh, owns assets including Masterton Park in Fife, and has a stake in the proposed development of Shawfair Business Park near Edinburgh. It also has assets in continental Europe, the US and Australia.

Richard Pardoe, the former head of property at Royal London Asset Management, has recently been recruited to establish and drive investment through the London office.

Buccleuch Heritage Brands, the food and drink business, was formally launched 18 months ago, and produces chutneys, biscuits, beers and whiskies, as well as the longer-established Buccleuch beef.

Williamson declined to disclose revenues, but said that the company was in talks with supermarkets which might stock more Buccleuch branded goods. The rural division manages over 400 square miles of largely agricultural land in southern Scotland, and activities including tourism, shooting and rural property management.

It also manages the dukeís country homes, including four estates worth £113m in Scotland and a £5m Tudor home in Northamptonshire. Williamson said the division planned to develop a biomass energy business - burning waste materials from the dukeís estate to generate heat and power.

He said the company was in discussions with a major hotel chain about installing biomass generators in their properties around Scotland.

Tayburn, which counts Glenmorangie, Hilton and Diageo among its clients, is now working with Buccleuch Group, and the new brand it has created will be rolled out on all the dukeís property and produce.

Tayburn is also building a website for the Buccleuch Group, and designed the interior of Buccleuch Propertyís offices in Edinburgh.

Erick Davidson, managing director of Tayburn, said the project was about trying to build "Buccleuch Estates from a rural estate into a business. That captured my imagination. In our world, we try to build a brand from scratch. Here we were looking at a name that goes back 700-800 years."

The branding project, which will take around one year to complete, will cost "thousands, not hundreds of thousands of pounds" according to Williamson.

The duke regularly features in rich lists as one of Scotlandís wealthiest people, based on the value of the land his family owns, and his art collection, which is one of the finest in the UK.

He claims that his fortune is far smaller than has been suggested, because his assets would incur 80% inheritance tax if sold.

The duke hit the headlines in August last year when a painting in his collection by Leonardo Da Vinci, Madonna with the Yarnwinder, which is estimated to be worth between £25m and £50m, was stolen from Drumlanrig in a daring raid.

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