With the death of Ian Galloway, Scotland has lost one of its leading businessmen and the Scottish red meat industry one of its most innovative and progressive operators.
For five decades, Ian headed up Scotbeef, which is now Scotland’s largest meat processing business with plants in Bridge of Allan, Queenslie, East Kilbride, Annan and Inverurie. From those premises, Scotch beef and lamb is supplied to the UK’s biggest supermarkets. The family firm has a £300m-plus annual turnover and is the country’s largest red meat exporter.
Both Ian’s father and grandfather were heavily involved in processing and retailing, leaving him with little choice in his career path. He joined the family business of JW Galloway in 1956 from school and his father, who was concerned about his own health, wanted Ian to gain as much hands-on experience as possible. This started with a short spell behind the shop counter, followed by travelling around the family’s shops. A couple of years later, his father sent him on a world trip to broaden his knowledge.
The experience gained helped the company build the first driven-line meat processing plant in the UK and in 1962 Scotbeef, a wholly owned subsidiary of JW Galloway, was founded.
Also in the early 1960s, he spent time in Europe learning how the meat industry operated on the Continent and in a pioneering move he opened up the export trade for Scottish beef and lamb.
By the mid-1970s, JW Galloway had 56 shops in Glasgow and the Central Belt. In addition, it owned two processing factories and employed a total of 1100 staff. He was already supplying Marks and Spencers with canned meats and together they developed the industry standard for ‘Controlled atmosphere packing’ of fresh meat. This enabled fresh meat to be extended to many more stores. This encouraged Ian to come out of retailing, which was fast losing market share to the multiples and concentrate on meat processing.
Some 50 years later, Ian proudly celebrated the Golden Jubilee of trading with M and S in another example of his ability and enthusiasm for retaining business links. His link with M and S also provided sponsorship for the Scottish national premier meat exhibition. This prestigious event is staged at Scotbeef’s Bridge of Allan abattoir.
He was always a strong supporter of the Winter Fair and in 1993 was made honorary president of the Scottish National Fatstock Club, which runs the event. Thanks to both his determination and the support of a strong management team, led by his son, Robbie, who has been responsible for much of the company’s operations for the past decade, the business had also been able to increase business to new players in the market, such as Aldi.
An example of Ian’s determination came in 2001, five years after Europe shut the gate on importing beef and lamb from the UK on account of BSE. After five years of wrangling, a complex list of demands re-opened the export market.
Although it was not immediately commercially viable to do so, Ian was determined to regain markets that he dedicated his factory in Strathaven to supplying beef and lamb for Europe. He was rewarded for his efforts in 2011 with the Queen’s Award for Excellence.
His efforts in promoting red meat also saw him awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Highland Agricultural Society in 2000. He was also nominated president of the Highland Show in 2006.
In 2001 he was awarded a CBE for services to the Scottish meat industry and more recently received an honorary doctorate from Glasgow Vet School and an honorary fellowship from Scotland’s Rural College.
Ian was a businessman of the old school, who learnt his trade at the sharp end. Much of the management philosophy behind the growth of the company was based on the basic good sense he learned from his father. None was more important than keeping good links or relationships with those he dealt with, be they farmers, retailers or employees.
His main non-business interest was in country sports and he was considered a good shot, a skilful angler and an accomplished stalker. Much of this was carried out on some of Scotland’s best sporting estates, though he also ventured abroad to take his sport into new territory, abroad.
In his private life Avril and he celebrated their golden wedding in 2013. While he was always a very committed businessman, his great joy in later life was his family and especially his 10 grandchildren.
He is survived by Avril, son Robbie, daughter, Suzie, son in-law James, daughter in-laws, Nicki and Alison and 10 grandchildren.