Scotland’s first visitor centre dedicated to shortbread has been honoured at this year’s Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
Dean’s, the leading producer of premium quality shortbread and related hand-baked products, won the Food & Drink Tourism category at last night’s ceremony for its popular attraction.
Dean’s fought off competition from The Cook School at Braehead, the Hebridean Smokehouse Shop and New Dog Café at G&G Sinclair (Craigie's Farm Deli and Café) in South Queensferry.
Based in Huntly, the centre annually draws around 80,000 visitors from the UK and beyond. It boasts an appetising café, which offers a selection of home-bakes, snacks, traditional hot meals and daily specials. It also features a viewing gallery, which allows spectators to watch the staff at work in the factory plus there is a tempting gift shop for those who wish to purchase the treats or a souvenir.
Bill Dean, managing director of Dean’s, was delighted to accept the title. He said:
“We’re so pleased to have won this award as recognition of our visitor centre. We opened it in 2007, receiving a fantastic response from the public ever since. Our gift shop has also received VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance 5 Star Award.
“We decided to open the new facility as we wanted to widen the overall experience for our visitors and since opening, we have continually seen visitor numbers increase. We have also attracted two new tour operator groups who have made bookings for the majority of the season.
“The expanded facilities have turned the experience of a visit to Dean’s from one of mainly shopping, to one which promotes a key part of our national heritage and identity. Shortbread has a distinct association with Scotland and we have developed the centre to provide a cultural learning experience through the use of storyboards, DVD and presentations relating to the history of shortbread – how it is made and how this relates to our own company origin.”
Currently stocked in the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets, independent retailers and gift outlets within the UK and also exported overseas, Dean’s products are known for their ‘melt in the mouth’ taste, which is thanks to a traditional family recipe created by the late Helen Dean, mother of current MD, Bill.
Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: “The calibre of entries to the excellence awards has been extremely high this year so Dean’s should be extremely proud to be crowned winner of the Food & Drink Tourism category. Scotland is famous for both its tourism and food and drink so combining the two is a strong recipe for success. Dean’s Visitor Centre is a perfect example of a food and drink company innovating to reach new markets.”
The Dean’s range includes; traditional Scottish all butter shortbread fingers, rounds and petticoat tails, Oat Biscuits, Scottish Oatcakes, Petit Four (bite-sized shortbread) and recipes containing tasty ingredients such as Scottish fruit, double cream, toasted coconut, praline pecan and Belgian chocolate chunks.
“We recently embarked on a re-launch to raise awareness of our full range, with a refreshed look and feel to the brand and new website, which will have an online shop and section for recipes from June.
“The development of our visitor facilities fits with this strategy to encourage visitors from the UK and abroad to view first hand the ‘Dean’s Story’. Winning this title will hopefully only increase awareness and we are looking forward to seeing what the future will bring.”
The story of Dean’s began in 1975 in Helen Dean’s kitchen, where she began producing her ‘melt in the mouth’ shortbread in order to raise funds for the Huntly Pipe Band, in which her husband Bill (father of the current MD, Bill) was the Drum Major.
From there, demand for Helen’s famous recipe increased and in 1992, growing from her home kitchen to local bakery, Dean’s moved to a new purpose built bakery, on the outskirts of Huntly, with the award winning visitor centre, café, gift shop and viewing gallery over the bakery.
Today, Dean’s is still a family-run business with 118 employees, priding itself on using time honoured handcrafted baking methods, while striving to develop new ideas.
You can buy the Dean’s range in Tesco and Morrisons UK-wide, as well as Asda, Co-op and Sainsburys in Scotland. Biscuit lovers overseas are also able to buy Dean’s products in countries as far as Australia, Japan, China, North America, UAE and Russia.
For further information on Dean’s, visit www.deans.co.uk <http://www.deans.co.uk> . The new website currently features the full shortbread and biscuit range and in the summer of this year, will include an online shop to stock up on your favourite Dean’s products and a variety of delicious inspirational recipes.
Notes to Editor:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO SAMPLE THIS PRODUCT, PLEASE CONTACT:
Gillian Hamilton, at threebrand PR, on 0131 454 2030 / 07889 365363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org OR Sarah Beveridge at threebrand PR on 0131 454 2030 or email email@example.com
PHOTOS: A variety of high quality images are available – both of key personnel and products
SAMPLES: We would be pleased to arrange for you to receive free samples of any Dean’s products
VISITS: We welcome enquiries about visits by journalists and feature writers to Dean’s Bakery in Huntly, Aberdeenshire
INTERVIEWS: We will happily arrange Dean’s key personnel interviews for you – in person or by telephone
· Dean’s recently won Gold in the Most Successful Product for its Oat Biscuit Range at the Grampian Food Forum Innovation Awards on Thursday 18th March 2010.
· Dean’s current turnover is £7m and the firm is looking to increase this to £10m within the next three years, through the rebrand and raising awareness of the core range within the UK and further afield.
· The Dean’s range includes; traditional Scottish all butter shortbread fingers, rounds and petticoat tails, Oat Biscuits, Scottish Oatcakes, Petit Four (bite-sized shortbread) and recipes containing tasty ingredients such as Scottish fruit, double cream, toasted coconut, praline, pecan and Belgian chocolate.
· Dean’s newest range – Oat Biscuits – is an indulgent and luxurious addition to its premium collection of traditional and contemporary shortbread. Remaining true to the hand-baking proposition, these home-style biscuits are made from the finest Scottish Oats and all natural ingredients. There are five light and crunchy biscuits in the range; Original, Stem Ginger, Coconut & Treacle, Saltana & Heather Honey and Apple & Cranberry.
· Dean’s is available to buy in the following retail outlets:
o Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op (UK-wide); Asda and Sainsburys (Scotland only); Edinburgh Woollen Mills, Dobbies, Chocolate Box (airport terminal shops), Jenners, Historic Scotland sites including; Stirling, Edinburgh, Eilean Donnan and Culzean Castles, Baxters, Caithness Glass, Crieff Visitor Centres and various National Trust sites in Scotland
· Dean's shortbread is available from all major Wholesalers and Cash and Carries throughout Scotland and in a number of key Wholesalers in England.
· Dean’s is available through the following food service outlets:
o 3663, Brakes and Woodward.
· As well as in the UK, Dean’s can be purchased in the following countries:
o USA, Canada, Russia, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China and UAE.
Issued on behalf of Dean’s, by threebrand PR.