Boyd Tunnock: Outstanding Contribution Award

LBEA 2013. Lanarkshire Business Awards.
LBEA 2013. Lanarkshire Business Awards.

BOYD Tunnock may have turned 80 in January but he is no ordinary octogenarian.

The man dubbed the Willy Wonka of Tannochside has transformed his company into a worldwide name.

Tunnock’s now sells a staggering 10 million biscuits per week.

So his Outstanding Contribution to Business in Lanarkshire award was more than richly deserved, as was the warm standing ovation he received from his business peers at the ceremony.

Boyd accepted the award with modesty and self-deprecating humour, which is no doubt the measure of the man. However, there is no mistaking he is also a shrewd businessman who is very highly thought of within the Lanarkshire business community.

Accepting the award, Boyd joked: “Thank you ladies, gentlemen and all the people who buy our caramel wafers!

“It’s great to be nominated for an award where there’s no competition!

“I love picking up these awards. It’s a wonderful achievement.

“The chief of North Lanarkshire Council has three sisters who work for my family and myself – I’m sure that didn’t come into the equation at all! Bakers are like that you know!”

Terry Currie, who is in charge of leading the Celebrating Lanarkshire 2013 initiative – which includes a scheme to salute the area’s heroes – was not short of material for his glowing tribute to Boyd.

Terry said: “Celebrating Lanarkshire 2013 has co-ordinated a programme of events that recognises and promotes the life and work of David Livingstone and other great Lanarkshire people over the last 200 years.

“Part of this work is the Lanarkshire Hall of Fame, which celebrates the work and achievements of the region’s most prolific heroes.

“The Outstanding Contribution to Business in Lanarkshire award has been crafted to recognise the contributions of one of those heroes.

“One who has demonstrated a unique commitment to promoting, building and achieving business success in Lanarkshire.

“The recipient of this award has driven his company into the global arena. He is, of course, Mr Boyd Tunnock.”

So who is Boyd Tunnock? Born in 1933, he is the third generation to head up the family firm.

Despite retiring 14 years ago, he is still very much the public face of Tunnock’s.

Thomas Tunnock started the company in 1890 when he purchased a baker’s shop for a mere £80. Tunnock’s operated only as a baker until the 1950s.

It was in this decade and with the creation of their speciality items – the caramel wafer, snowballs, caramel logs and the world-famous Tunnock’s teacake – that business began to boom.

This led to factory extensions, which have now grown to around 300,000 sq feet, and more than 500 local employees. The factory still stands barely 100 yards from the site where Thomas Tunnock opened that first shop 120 years ago.

From its Uddingston base, Boyd has taken the company from strength to strength, expanding its global market share while operating profits have surged to over £30 million.

Despite this worldwide success, Boyd is adamant the company has no intention of ever leaving Scotland, nor moving out of family ownership. He boasts that the ‘simplicity’ of the Tunnock’s brand is what has led to such success.

Terry added: “Boyd’s legacy has been to not interfere with what works and to continue to invest heavily in keeping the factory at the cutting-edge of the manufacturing process, which now produces more than 10 million biscuits each week.

“Progressing from local nibbles to national institutions, Tunnock’s biscuit products have acquired the proud status of genuine Scottish icons.”

Boyd once again used humour to deflect from the accolades bestowed on him, stating: “I’d like to thank Terry for his glowing tribute. He read what I wrote perfectly!”

He may be a modest hero but Boyd Tunnock now has an Outstanding Achievement in Business Award which will no doubt take pride of place alongside the MBE awarded in 1987 for his business acumen and a CBE in 2004 for his charity work.

* Boyd toasted his 80th birthday in January this year and to celebrate this milestone he is treating all his employees to a slap-up meal at the Hilton Hotel in April. It’s his way of thanking the people who helped him build his business.

JULIE CURRIE,

Gazette Editor