A dedicated manager is helping Scotland's biggest crisp brand to double production and hit ambitious targets - two years after leaving manufacturing.
With over 30 years of experience under her belt, Emma Foster returned to the fourth-generation family brand, Mackie’s Crisps, to help rescale and redirect the company as General Manager.
After taking a two-year career break to explore new avenues, Foster found herself drawn back to the company in 2020 due to the family orientated team and evolving product lines.
Within the year, Foster restructured production runs and shift patterns resulting in better work life balance, reduced on site waste and increased productivity by 20%, with 420kg of potatoes through the fryer an hour compared to 350kg/h in the previous year.
Packs produced have since doubled with an average rise from 275,000 packs produced per week to over 500,000.
Foster said, “We are now producing just over 500,000 packs per week between crisps and healthy snacks which is a tribute to this team embracing change and really giving 100% effort day in day out.
“When I returned to Mackie’s I sat down with the teams and took the time to understand everyone’s roles and explain why I was here. It was incredibly useful as it helped set new targets but also filter out what needed changing.
“You get so much more from your teams when they understand what we’re aiming to do and figure out what they need back.
“This led to a change in shift pattern from two x 12 hour shifts Monday to Thursday to three x eight hour shifts starting Sunday to Friday. The restructuring was needed to manage the increase in orders but also to give everyone a significantly healthier work life balance.
“It also helped reduce overtime and I am pleased to say the team is still maintaining a 20% increase in productivity.”
Alongside the rise in production, Emma has helped cut down on site waste from 10% to less than 3% by monitoring waste from every production run and investing in new packaging with altered dimensions.
Foster's one-year anniversary of returning to the factory has been marked with growing demands as a result of over 27 new product launches: 13 in crisp pack sizes including 3 new flavours and 14 in healthy popped snacks.
Foster added, “Returning to the Mackie’s team has been like coming home, even though a lot has changed – I feel like I am back where I’m supposed to be.
“The team is always open to new ideas and there is always something exciting going on whether that be product launches or infrastructure developments. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Starting out with the Taylor family (Taypack Potatoes Ltd.) in 1999 as a production manager, Emma has seen the Taylor family business transform over the years, from growing potatoes, peas, fruit and cereals to building a state-of-the-art factory and becoming a nationally recognised snack.
Foster said, “Some of the biggest changes since returning has been the new product range, consumer base, and the introduction of new healthier snacks.
“When Mackie’s Crisps started in 2009 its first stockist was Tesco with just six flavours. We now have 40 flavours with a thriving online store, export business, healthy line and various different packaging sizes.
“Throughout the last year there has been a massive jump in production with a real focus to tap into specific markets through listening and developing products that consumers want to see.'
Foster ended, “It’s a really exciting time to be returning to the team as Mackie’s Crisps has been on a period of real growth.”
Produced at the fourth-generation Taylor Crisp factory in Errol, Perthshire, Mackie’s Crisps has become the leading Scottish crisp brand with a dedication towards making high quality, delicious crisps and snacks.
James Taylor, Managing Director at Mackie’s at Taypack, runs the family-owned business alongside his father, Chairman George Taylor. It employs a team of 50 staff – and recently became Scotland’s third best-selling premium crisp brand following growth that bucked wider market decline.