Glencraft hires oil and gas chief as Scottish social enterprise returns from Covid

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A luxury mattress maker, which is one of Scotland’s oldest social enterprises, has recruited an oil and gas industry veteran to be its new chief executive.

Glencraft, which provides opportunities for blind, partially blind and disabled people, has announced that Donald MacKay will succeed Graham McWilliam as head of the Aberdeen-based charity.

Mr. MacKay joins us after a 30-year career in the energy industry that has seen him live in 10 countries. He started his career at Schlumberger and held management positions in companies such as Odfjell Well Services, Morgenstern and Read Cased Hotel, as Managing Director of the latter.

Mr McWilliam steps down after six years at the helm of Glencraft, 178, which supplies leading hotels at home and abroad, after recently securing £ 75,000 in government funding to replace obsolete machinery and improve reliability and the efficiency of its Mastrick production site. He plans to pursue new opportunities after a short hiatus.

Mr. MacKay, who was born and raised in Lewis, said: “It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with the direction, support and development of such a beloved and vitally important social enterprise. . I would like to thank Graham for his outstanding work during a time of intense challenges, including the downturn in the oil and gas market and the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. He is passing a company on from a position of strength, and we look forward to creating the next part of Glencraft’s story. The Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire businesses and community have always been huge supporters of Glencraft and I look forward to strengthening these relationships. I have enjoyed my career in the energy sector, but the chance to shape an organization with an international reputation for quality and which offers dignity through work opportunities that might not otherwise be available was just too good to be denied.

The change in leadership comes shortly after Glencraft won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in May. Glencraft won the award for promoting opportunities through social mobility, in recognition of its commitment to supporting people from under-represented groups, for staff training and development, and for its sustainable business model.

The award was hailed by the company yesterday as a fitting tribute to former chairman Duncan Skinner, who passed away earlier this year. Alongside Bob Keiller, former chief executive of energy giant Wood, Mr Skinner led the fight to save Glencraft in 2010 after facing funding issues.

The company has since recovered and employs 38 people, with clients in the North East of Scotland including the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar, the Buchan Braes Hotel near Peterhead, the Maryculter House Hotel just outside Aberdeen and the Chester Hotel in Granite Town. It supplies mattresses to the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, London, and the Caledonia Sleeper Service, as well as to clients in the North Sea oil and gas industry.

Further, the company has sales agreements with five-star hotels and distributors in South Korea and China, and through partners, has branded stores in Singapore and Hong Kong. Discussions are underway with a “major customer” in Germany.

Asked about the impact of the pandemic on the business, a spokesperson said social distancing rules reduce production capacity during times when restrictions are in place, with sales lost when the showroom had to close. The association’s key hospitality sector also suffered. However, although mattress production was down 50%, the organization said it traded at a surplus in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. A new contract with a customer in Korea South has helped to increase exports. After generating £ 983,000 for the period, it aims to generate £ 1.5million in the current year, “subject to Covid-19 issues”, although more time is needed to that raw material supplies arrive.

Jonathan Smith, who has been confirmed as President of Glencraft, said: “We wish Graham all the best on his next adventure. He led our transformation into a luxury brand, expanded our reach through international agreements and supported the growth and development of a talented team. When Graham announced he was stepping down, Glencraft’s Board of Directors set in motion a process to find someone whose leadership qualities encompass the professional will and personal humility that this demanding role requires. Glad to say we found this at Donald.

Mr McWilliam said: “Of course I am sad to be leaving Glencraft, but now is the time to find new challenges. Over the past few years Glencraft has been on the right track and I have no doubt that Donald and his team will build on this to ensure that it continues to grow not only as a commercial company, but also as a that valuable support network in the Aberdeen community.

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