Where it all began
25-year-old George Baxter had been working as a gardener for the Duke of Richmond and Gordon on the Gordon Castle Estate when he decided that the green-fingered life was no longer for him. He wanted to own a grocery business.
After borrowing 11 guineas from family members, the doors to George’s small shop in the village of Fochabers, open for the first time. It’s there in the back shop, that his wife Margaret began making jams and jellies with fruits from the local area. And it wasn’t just the locals who lapped them up, the Duke of Fochabers made them a staple of his dinner table.
A New Factory
Like father, like son. William follows into the family trade, buying a spot of land from the Duke and building a factory, exactly 120 yards from the River Spey. His wife Ethel follows suit, creating an exceptional range of jams which William cycles to markets all over Scotland.
After hiring a canning machine, Ethel pioneers the airtight canning of locally grown fruit. Baxters proudly becomes one of the first companies in Scotland to produce canned fruits in syrup, including strawberries, raspberries and plums.
From Jams to Soups
Inspired by the sheer abundance of fine local produce, Ethel decides to trial something different and tries her hand at soups. And we’re so glad she did. She created a range of soups including the original recipe for the now famous Royal Game soup with venison from the hills of Upper Speyside. Orders from the likes of Harrods and Fortnum & Mason soon come flooding in. Ethel’s soups were a national success.
Back on Track
Gordon and Ian Baxter return home after the long war years and get back to work at the family business, taking over the reins of the factory from their parents.
Ena Joins the Company
A turning point in the Baxter story is when another creative lady joins the family. In 1952, talented Aberdeenshire artist and cook, Ena Robertson meets and soon marries Gordon. Together in their tiny lab, they create an exciting new range of Scottish soups inspired by traditional recipes including Cock-a-leekie, Scotch Broth and Chicken Broth.
By Royal Appointment
Baxters commitment to food of the highest quality brings Royal recognition. HM Queen Elizabeth II, grants the prestigious Royal Warrant of Appointment to the company for manufacturers of Scottish Food Specialities.
Becoming World Famous
Well, we couldn’t just keep it all to ourselves, could we? By this point, Baxters was supplying fine quality soups to shops and delicatessens all over the world. Wanting to give them more of a taste of Scottish offerings, Gordon and Ena develop the innovative ‘Best of Scotland’ concept, which includes speciality foods, gift packs and tabletop accessories for top department stores in Europe, America, South Africa, Japan and Australia. They are inundated with orders.
Baxters’ reputation for innovation continues, as we become the first company in the UK to introduce twist-top caps on 12oz jars of preserves.
Baxters on TV
A natural in front of the camera, Ena becomes somewhat of a culinary celebrity after appearing on a number of TV programmes both at home and abroad. Her successful appearances help to revive public interest in traditional Scottish cuisine dating back to Mary Queen of Scots and her French chefs.
The Biggest Beetroot Producer
Baxters becomes the number one producer of beetroot products in the UK. It was one of the products that went back to our... roots. Our beetroot in vinegar was first made in the 1920s when William Baxter purchased half a ton of the root vegetable, which wife Ethel then cooked, hand-sliced and bottled in Orleans Wine vinegar.
New Flavours For A New Era
Baxters only goes from strength to strength as the UK’s number one premium soup brand. This was largely thanks to the formidable business duo, Ena and Gordon having their finger on the button and responding to ever-changing consumer tastes. And they’re not done. They decide to experiment with more exotic flavours, kickstarting a new, exciting era for the brand.
Handing Over the Spoon
After a long and successful career at the head of the company, Gordon Baxter hands over the reins to his daughter, Audrey. Together with her brother Andrew, Audrey makes a splash by creating an enticing new range of products for markets around the world. The company enters a whole new global chapter.
A Royal Visit
The Royal connection remains strong throughout the years. A very proud day for all at Fochabers, when the company’s 125 years of food making is marked with a visit from HRH Prince of Wales.
Here and now
Still at the helm, Audrey Baxter and her management team run a company that her great grandparents could never have dreamed of. The sheer scale of the operation now based in sites throughout the UK and food manufacturing operations in the USA, Australia and Poland, and the science and technology that underlies it may be far removed from the little village shop in Fochabers… but the ethos remains the same. Be different, be better.