History of Lees of Scotland
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”.