Distillery doubles its workforce in a decade

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Scotland’s only family-owned whisky distillery has nearly doubled its number of employees in 10 years.

Springbank's director of Sales and marketing Ranald Watson and director of production Findlay Ross talk to CGS S4 pupils.
Springbank’s director of sales and marketing Ranald Watson and director of production Findlay Ross talk to CGS S4 pupils.

Campbeltown’s Springbank, founded by John Mitchell in 1828 and the only distillery remaining where all processes are carried out in-house, has expanded from 42 to 83 employees.

The figures were revealed on Tuesday morning, during a power point presentation about term-time internships, to S4 pupils at Campbeltown Grammar School (CGS).

Approximately half-hour talks, as part of the Foundation Apprenticeships’ launch, were given by the distillery’s sales and marketing director, a former CGS pupil and Courier reporter, Ranald Watson, and Springbank’s director of production Findlay Ross.

These apprenticeships are designed to ‘close the gap between the classroom and the workplace.’

Skills Development Scotland state: ‘Foundation Apprenticeships are a work-based learning opportunity for senior-phase secondary school pupils.

‘Lasting two years, pupils typically begin their Foundation Apprenticeship in S5.

‘Young people spend time out of school at college or with a local employer, and complete the Foundation Apprenticeship alongside their other subjects, such as National 5s and Highers.’

Mr Watson told pupils about the distillery’s term-time internships.

These are a way to introduce Campbeltown youths, aged 16 plus, to the world of work and run from August to March. The internships incorporate about two hours work experience a week in all aspects of Springbank’s work.

During the presentation there were many pictures of workers and Mr Watson joked that it was easy to spot interns because at the start of the programme they are given yellow t-shirts.

Mr Watson said: ‘At least 90 per cent of the workforce is from Campbeltown, although Findlay here, is from Oban.

‘In a place like Campbeltown the more jobs we can create the better as it helps support other businesses.’

He added that jobs are more varied than ever, with more than 6,000 tourists visiting Springbank in 2018 from round the world.

Mr Ross said that many employees start in the bottling hall, where the bottles are filled, labelled and packed and the work is fast paced, as it gives a great overview of the products.

He added that there are two bottling lines – one automatic and the other semi-automatic.

The talk also revealed that Springbank is very forward thinking, planning up to 50 years into the future. It has more demand than the whisky in its warehouse and sells to 42 countries with 80 per cent of production going to export.

The pupils were shown slides of much varied work and were told that the records department has more books than the school library.

The two directors  agreed that the work can be physically demanding, such as in the malt barns, but Mr Watson added: ‘That physicality can save on gym membership.’