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Ian Marr

Former head of the Aulds bakery chain

Former head of the Aulds bakery chain

Born: August 9, 1925; Died: November 21, 2013

Ian Robert Marr, who has died aged 88, played a major part in the baking and frozen food industry in Scotland and the United Kingdom at the helm of his company Aulds based in Brisbane Street, Greenock. During the 65 years that he worked in the industry, he brought much employment to Greenock and the central belt of Scotland with Aulds at times employing almost 1000 people in production facilities in Greenock, Inchinnan and Hamilton and shops throughout the central belt.

Born on a sugar plantation in Georgetown in the Demerara region of British Guiana, he returned with his family to Greenock in 1930 at the age of five, following his father's death, with his mother Jenny (Janet) and sisters Rona and Sheena to stay with his grandfather Thomas Auld in Greenock.

Educated at Greenock High schoo, he studied civil engineering at Strathclyde Technical College before a call-up to the army interrupted his studies. He served with the Cameron Highlanders and the Royal Artillery.

On returning to Greenock after the war, he was left with the task of supporting his grandmother, his mother, his aunt and his two sisters after his uncles, who were running a number of small bakeries, died. Switching his studies from civil engineering to attend the Scottish School of Baking, he started his career in the baking industry.

Soon after, in the early 1950s, he met and married Patricia from Aldershot. She had spent the war years at the Royal Airforce research establishment at Farnborough, after which she pursued a career in science and became a school teacher, working in both primary and secondary. It was when she a head mistress in an army school in Tripoli that she learned to sail - a pastime that she was to introduce her husband to when she moved to Scotland.

Back in the baking world, Mr Marr soon combined the three bakeries his uncles operated and set about expanding the retail operation, increasing the Aulds retail outlets from three in the late fifties to 31 by 1989. This included the takeover of the company Jean Frames in Hamilton in 1967 which saw Aulds expand into the Lanarkshire area.

The expansion of the frozen food industry gave him another opportunity and he developed a range of frozen sweets and desserts for the foodservice market. Soon Aulds were supplying the leading companies in the market and quickly obtained a reputation for excellent products.

The success of the frozen desserts business saw the bakery at Hamilton quickly expand to a 40,000 sq ft facility employing more than 250 people.

Mr Marr's interests in both the baking and frozen food industries saw him involved in many aspects of governance, becoming the president of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers in 1968/69 and then taking over the role of treasurer with the organisation for the following 10 years. He also joined the British Confectioners Association, a group of the leading bakery craftsmen and businessmen throughout the UK, and became a very active member.

He was instrumental in the Scottish Association of Master Bakers' Centenary celebrations when a full working bakery was created at the Royal Highland Show in 1991 and was visited by Princess Anne. Aulds followed this by celebrating its own centenary in the year 2000 with a celebration only yards from the company's first bakers shop and tea room located in Brymner Street in Greenock.

Mr Marr's interests outside work saw him involved in many local organisations including Greenock Rotary, of which he was a founder member, the Inverclyde Enterprise Trust and The Royal Gourock Yacht Club of which he was a former Rear Commodore.

His interest in sailing and boats in general had grown through Patricia's interest in sailing and after Fiona and Alan, their children, were born, the idea of a family boat and sailing around the Clyde and the Western Isles soon became a reality, with many a family holiday being spent cruising the Western Isles in the boat, which Ian took a pride in maintaining to a very high standard.

Joined in the business in the late 1980s by his children Fiona and Alan, the fourth generation to work in the business, Mr Marr continued to move the company forward building a 60,000 sq ft state of the art food production facility at Inchinnan Business Park in 1993 and continuing the expansion of the Aulds retail operation to 45 shops.

Although reaching the normal retiral age in 1990, he loved his work and continued to be an active director of the company right up until his death, having spent more than 65 years working for his company and the industry.

His exceptional loyalty to employees over his career was reciprocated by the workforce with many employees working with the company for in excess of 30 years. To many he was more than the boss. He was a father figure. In a quiet way a helping hand was provided when needed and he was someone whom employees or others could turn to for advice knowing they would get an honest and helpful response whether it be for family problems or a leaking church roof.

His interest in all things engineering remained throughout his life from his initial training in engineering as a young man and he was always happy to discuss the engineering functionality of all types of machines, whether it was the ovens in the bakery, the engines in the vans the company operated, the engines in his own or others' boats or even the additional electric motor on the minister's latest pedal bike. There is little doubt that if his career had not taken that early twist that led him into the baking business he would have been more than happy to spend his life following his first interest in engineering.

His full life with wife Patricia was to end when Patricia became increasingly ill in her early eighties and he nursed her through a number of years of illness before she died in 2005 at the age of 84. He had his own struggles with ill health, with many ailments during his last 10 years of life, something he was always willing to analyse and discuss with others.

He is survived by his two younger sisters Rona and Sheena, and his children Fiona and Alan.

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