Name: Douglas Stewart.

Age: 29.

What is your business called?

The Hebridean Food Group.

Where is it based?

South Lanarkshire.

What does it produce?

Pre-prepared meals. Our range includes chicken braemar wrapped in streaky bacon and filled with Stornoway black pudding, served with buttery mashed potato and a rich peppercorn sauce; Ayrshire cured pulled ham served with a rich potato gratin, topped with an Isle of Mull cheddar crumb and tender Scottish beef olive slow cooked in a rich onion gravy, served with an indulgent creamy mashed potato.

We have sold fish and seafood under the Hebridean Food Company brand but put that business on hold in order to move into the production of pre-prepared meals and soups under the Stewart’s Kitchen brand. This launched earlier this year.

To whom does it sell?

Our meals and soups are stocked by retail chains such as Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Co-Op. We have recently launched with a couple of national retailers, growing our presence in the UK chilled soup market.

What is its turnover?


The coronavirus has undoubtedly brought challenges to our industry. It has created supply chain complications for us as packaging is often produced in continental Europe. Sourcing of ingredients from countries such as Spain and Italy has also been difficult at times, with prices fluctuating widely.

Internally, the company has completely changed the way we manufacture on a day to day basis to ensure the safety of our staff and in following the government guidelines regarding coronavirus.

How many employees?

There are eight of us in total.

When was it formed?

I launched the company in 2013.

Why did you take the plunge?

I am the son of a lobster fisherman and grew up in the Hebrides, where I was blessed with enjoying and learning about the freshest produce that Scotland has to offer. The Hebridean Food Group was born out of my mission to encourage more people to enjoy the incredible food produced on their doorstep, even for those whose busy lifestyles mean finding time to cook is often a struggle. I started selling local produce at farmers markets and we now have a fully-functioning production facility in South Lanarkshire. It’s been a labour of love and I’ve never looked back.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was studying at what was the Scottish Agricultural College, now named Scotland’s Rural College. I graduated with a degree in Rural Business Management. After I completed the course I launched the business.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Like many entrepreneurs I faced a bumpy road raising the start-up funding. It was raised through my initial operations, trading local produce like shellfish and other seafood at farmer’s markets. From there, I saved the capital and built the business from the ground up.

What was your biggest break?

When I started crowdfunding back in 2016, when it was still a relatively new concept. I started the campaign with the aim to raise £60,000 in thirty days. Investors came in from all across the UK and Europe and soon we had raised £160,000 which was incredible.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

There are so many elements to running the business that I love. It’s hugely satisfying having our products out there in leading supermarkets. I love developing new products, working with our chefs and flying the flag for local Scottish produce.

What do you least enjoy?

I’d have to say paperwork, it’s endless!

What is your biggest bugbear?

Probably just lead times. I’m very ambitious and love closing a deal with a supermarket or supplier. In this industry decisions aren’t made overnight and with some of the bigger retail chains it feels there are so many people involved with every transaction.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

I want The Hebridean Food Group to become a leading manufacturer for added value foods in Scotland for the retail sector. I really want to see us become a household name. I think we offer something unique in the market and aim to challenge some misconceptions about what pre-prepared meals can offer. We focus on quality and working with like-minded quality partners, so ultimately, I want these partnerships to grow. It’s my ambition to continue to collaborate with other innovative Scottish companies to create our quality, fresh pre-prepared meals so more people can buy and enjoy local Scottish produce.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

In these uncertain times we find ourselves in, I’m keen for the UK and Scottish Governments to continue supporting the food and drink industry. Their support has been gratefully received and it absolutely must not slip away.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

I learnt from an early age that you should never take anything for granted.

How do you relax?

I enjoy exercise and just love being outside, especially by the sea. I don’t get home to the Outer Hebrides as often as I’d like but when I do it’s so relaxing and rejuvenating.