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11 September 2004
The Herald
Sweet taste of success

STICKING AROUND: Highland toffee maker McCowan's has been awarded a 125,000 regional selective assistance grant that will see the Stirlingshire company expand its factory and add 25 jobs.

Alan McCafferty, the company's managing director, said the RSA grant would be put towards a 260,000 expansion of McCowan's bonbon-making facilities, the fastest-growing part of its business.

'Any money we receive will be very well spent.

'We're expanding the bonbon facilities because of the growing demand,' said McCafferty, above, who led a management buy-in last year at the Stenhousemuir -based firm.

'We recently received British Retail Council accreditation, which means that we are now able to sell to the multiples.

'The supermarkets will be a major area of expansion for us. We've already started selling to Asda and we're close to a deal with Morrisons.'

McCafferty, whose management buy-in brought McCowan's back into Scottish hands after 40 years, added: 'When we took over, the company was producing around six or seven tonnes of bonbons a week. Next year we hope to be producing more than 30 tonnes a week.'

McCowan's, which already sells its bonbons in Scandanavia, Ireland and France, also hopes to expand into Spain over the next 12 months.

The company, which currently employs 85 workers, was founded by Andrew McCowan, a Perthshire herdboy, in 1924. McCowan went on to become an agent for a small confectionery firm.

He made rock, snowballs, lollipops, and macaroons over a coke brazier until, when the depression was at its height, he began making the company's famous toffee - and selling it in 'penny dainties' to those of meagre means.

McCowan's was sold to Nestle in 1960, briefly held by a management buy-out team in 1989, and then bought by Dutch confectioner Phideas in 1996.

The company turned over around 7m in its last financial year, up from 6.5m the previous year.

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