Scotland’s top brands: 3. Simon Howie

Scottish butcher proud to enjoy both a national and local presence as business moves into convenience

HISTORICALLY, Scottish butcher Simon Howie has not been prominent in the convenience channel – but that is changing.

The Perthshire business is now working with Scotmid Co-op and Greens Retail and it is seeing rapid growth in the sector.

Scotmid has just extended the Simon Howie range into 300 Co-op Scotland stores and has also increased the offering to better meet customer demand.

Following strong initial sales in haggis, ham hough and bacon, Scotmid Co-op has added Simon Howie’s Sliced Haggis, Sliced Black Pudding and Premium Steak Lorne to the range.

Simon Howie has also launched six products with Greens in May after reading about the c-store chain’s success in this magazine.

Simon Howie brand director Clair Howison explained: “With the stores being located in smaller towns, this adds to our mission to have our brand as accessible to all as possible.”

Boss Simon Howie was born and bred in Dunning, where the business is based and where he still lives.Hailing from a farming background, he also still owns the Perth shop where he first worked as a Saturday boy.

And the firm claims its butchers have decades of experience, ensuring quality underpins everything it does.

Howison added: “We also have that sense of ‘the local shop’ community at the heart of everything we do, so we want to make sure our brand stays affordable and accessible.

“From the local butcher to manufacturing at a national level, we want everyone to be able to have a Simon Howie product in their fridge.

“We are proud to be Scottish but we are equally as proud to grow nationally and aim high. I think that all combines into a brand that the Scottish consumer wants to support.”

Of course, Simon Howie has been selling products to the major multiples for more than 20 years and has 45-plus SKUs selling in Scotland, as well as additional seasonal offerings.

Heavy investment in marketing and packaging development in 2022 has been followed by working out how the company could invest to better help customers and do everything it could to fight increased prices in the face of continued high energy costs and public concerns about the financial crisis during 2023.

Simon Howie’s answer has been to spend about £3million on sustainable energy as a way of protecting the business and customers from the economic turbulence.

These factors help to explain why the firm continues to grow – and the small team at Dunning reckon the Kantar findings confirms the hard work to deliver quality products at affordable prices is worth it, as the brand resonates with and is trusted by its customers.

Howison said: “In 2020, we moved from position 11 to seven and we were thrilled to be in the top 10 for the first time. We then moved up each year to sixth then fifth.

“But to jump from fifth to third this year and now be on the podium, so to speak, for the first time, just three years later, feels special.”

And the brand director is predicting a “butterfly moment” next year, with a shift from battening down the hatches during this last year – and that will start with the unveiling of an exciting special product for Burns Night.