Lees established in Coatbridge by John J Lees.
Lees starts to expand its branded range of confectionery and snowball and teacake products.
At the age of 70, John J lees steps down from his position as Chairman and Managing Director. The business under his stewardship had grown to achieve sales turnover of £850k.
Lees sets up Heather Cameron Foods in Wishaw with joint venture partner, thus expanding product range to include meringues
Lees acquires Gainsborough Chocolates and Fullers of Greenock
Lees buys out partner to fully own Heather Cameron and develops a new range of meringues
The Company was acquired by Northumbrian Fine Foods
The Company returns to independent Scottish ownership
Lees production moves from 2 sites to one new 82,000 sq ft purpose built factory in Coatbridge. The new factory was opened 2 years by HRH Princess Anne on 19th January 2000.
Lees increases its production capacity and develops sales, reaching a wider audience in the UK, by growing it's business with customers south of the border. Turnover reaches £9m in 2001.
Lees purchases the Waverley Bakery in Cambuslang, manufacturer of ice cream cones and wafers
Lees Foods plc floated on the UK AIM market
Lees turnover exceeds £20m for the first time and the Company employs over 250 staff
Lees management successfully complete MBO as the Company de-lists from the AIM market
The relaunch of Lees snowballs and Lees teacakes
Redesign of Lees confectionery bar range to improve stand out on retailer shelves and to present the range as a family. The Lees macaroon bar also has a new look, but retains values of original product.
A major capital investment to install a new line in the Lees Coatbridge factory, with automated packing of teacakes and snowballs to improve production capacity and efficiencies
On the 29th February 2016, Lees Foods completed the sale of the Waverley Bakery to Orkla Food Ingredients. Orkla, a Norwegian Company, is listed on the Oslo Stock exchange. It is a leading supplier of branded goods to the grocery and bakery markets in the Nordics, Baltics and Europe, operating in 22 countries. In the UK, Orkla already had important interests in the ice-cream cone, wafer and ice-cream accessory market having previously acquired Marcantonio and Caterlink. The acquisition of Waverley gave Orkla a leading position in the UK market for ice cream ingredients and accessories.
It was in 1931 when John Justice Lees, a grocer’s son from Coatbridge, stumbled upon the creation of the Lees Macaroon bar. He had been trying to develop a smooth chocolate fondant bar in the premises above his father’s shop in Newlands Street. He was unsuccessful in his attempts, so as an experiment he covered the bar in coconut. This was to become the first ever Lees Macaroon bar that has now become a sweet Scottish favourite.
In the early days of Lees other products manufactured by the Company included teacakes and snowballs, before confectionery bars such as tablet, fudge and coconut ice bars were added to the range.
“Lees, Lees, more if you please”
In 1982 Lees set up Heather Cameron Foods with a joint venture partner, thus expanding their product range to include meringues. Seven years later Lees bought out the partner to fully own Heather Cameron.
Trading was very difficult in the late 80’s and Lees posted record losses in 1990 when it was then sold to Northumbrian Fine Foods in March 1991. In 1993 the Company returned to independent Scottish ownership and began to implement a series of initiatives that would return the Company back to profitability.
Lees operated out of 2 factories based in Coatbridge, one making Heather Cameron meringues and the other snowballs, teacakes and confectionery bars. In August 1998 the Company moved into new premises, still in Coatbridge, a new 82,000 square foot purpose built factory where all products in the range are now manufactured.
Lees is an important employer in the local area and around 200 people are employed at the Lees factory. The Company continues to grow its business and sales have increased every year since the turn of the century. The development of new Lees products and the introduction of existing products into new customers is key to the ongoing development of the Lees business in both the UK and export markets – as the saying goes “Lees, Lees, more if you please”.