GROWTH in the Scotch whisky industry will see Scottish packaging firm McLaren Packaging create 10 new jobs over the next four years as it opens a new manufacturing, design and testing centre in Stirling this month.

The Inverclyde-based company, whose clients include drinks giant Diageo, has invested £3 million in the facility at Broadleys Business Park where it will offer bespoke packaging designs for luxury Scottish food and drink products.

McLaren Packaging has secured a seven-figure funding package from the Bank of Scotland to complete its Blue Box Design subsidiary’s move to the new 20,000sqft facility. Larger premises will provide the rigid box business, acquired by McLaren Packaging in 2013, with more flexibility to upscale production and increase sales.

The Bank of Scotland supported the business, which currently employs 135, through a development loan, term loan and working capital facility.

Donald McLaren, managing director of McLaren Packaging, pointed to a growth in demand for premium packaging, particularly from the whisky sector. “As a supplier in a global market, it’s critical for us to move with the trends and invest to deliver a competitive advantage for our business and customers,” he said.

The firm produces a range of premium and luxury paper-based packaging for major drinks brands and Mr McLaren said that clients keen to differentiate in an increasingly competitive global market had spurred growth. “We’ve seen a huge shift to more elaborate packaging with bespoke designs due to drinkers all over the world demanding quirky and premium variations of our national tipple,” he pointed out.

Duncan Robertson, managing director of Blue Box Design, added: “Being able to focus on design, enhance productivity and produce sustainably puts us in a strong position to boost our offering into this market and maximise our location near Scotland’s major whisky producers.”

The Scotch whisky industry is the UK’s largest food and drink export, with exports valued at £4.37 billion in 2017.

Mr McLaren, whose father established the Port Glasgow-based business in 1979 and runs it with his brother Michael, has previously said that he aims to increase McLaren Packaging’s turnover to £20 million by 2020 with the new Stirling facility playing a key role.

“Having our ambitious growth plans supported by Bank of Scotland has made the process completely streamlined,” he said. “Its tailored knowledge helps immensely as the relationship team understands our plans and the importance of the impact we are having on the Scottish supply chain.”

Bank of Scotland relationship director Suzanne Stuart, said: “The Scottish whisky industry accounts for around 20% of all UK food and drink exports each year. Businesses of all shapes and sizes within that sector need to be well positioned to take advantage of this growth opportunity and help Scotland prosper.

“We are pleased to support McLaren Packaging in this new venture to help the business realise its growth ambitions and effectively compete with other firms.”

She added that relationship managers were working with firms across Scotland to support their growth plans and provide the tools needed to help companies achieve and secure success.

McLaren Packaging's new Stirling investment also received Regional Selective Assistance through Scottish Enterprise. The site and building have been "future-proofed" to enable the subsequent extension into two additional modules, doubling then tripling the initial floorspace.

It meets stringent design and build requirements, and incorporates a number of environmentally friendly features, including PV solar, electric car-charging points and high insulation levels.

Blue Box Design, which has annual revenues of £1.4m, moves from 8,000sqft premises in Stirling.