Name: Nick Sinclair.

Age: 38.

What is your business called?

The Edinburgh Butter Co.

What does it produce?

Currently we produce 1kg unsalted cultured butter sheets that are used by bakers and chefs for pastry as well as 200g salted cultured butter rolls for hospitality and retail. We’ve also just launched our buttermilk and crème fraiche.

To whom does it sell?

We sell to restaurants and hotels across the UK and are proud to work with some of the best chefs in the country. We also supply a range of independent retailers. We sell directly to businesses as well as working with the distributor Mark Murphy.

What is its turnover?

This year is on course to be £630,000.

How many employees?


When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

Myself and my wife, Hils, had spent a couple of years running a small but relatively successful supper club from home and had been looking for an opportunity to start something that we could scale and build into a business that could provide us with a living.

We decided very early on that we didn’t want to run a restaurant as we know how hard that is. We were in Australia on holiday in 2017 and found that they had a really interesting artisan butter market. After a little bit of investigation it turned out that the Australian market for butter was relatively similar to that of the UK, in that the vast majority of premium butter was imported from France even though they had access to really high quality dairy.

On the flight on the way home we decided to start making butter for our supper clubs and spent nine months using our guests as guinea pigs, doing butter tasting boards, getting feedback and trying different techniques. At the end of 2018 we decided that we were going to wind up the supper club and focus a bit more on butter. Hils took on the production in our kitchen and I worked on social media and drumming up sales, as well as the myriad of other things that go into trying to start a business. We were literally driving around Edinburgh delivering individual sticks of butter to people’s houses (mainly those people that had come to our supper clubs). After three more months of feedback and refining, we decided to take the plunge and try and get it stocked somewhere. Henri’s in Stockbridge was the first deli to stock our butter then we got a call from The Balmoral Hotel and it was at that point we thought we might be on to something.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

My background is in commodities, specifically shipping and sales for banks in London. I moved up to Edinburgh in 2015 after leaving Goldman Sachs and worked briefly for Blackrock. I very quickly realized that my future in Edinburgh was not in finance so started a software company with an old colleague (which quickly got sold) and then worked on sales for another software company. Both developed software for the shipping industry.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

From the start everything has been bootstrapped. We didn’t pay ourselves for the first 18 months which helped, and any money made was invested directly back into the business for new equipment. Thankfully our second production location was in Hils’ sisters flat so we were lucky that there wasn’t any rent to pay for the first two years after moving out of the kitchen at home. .

What was your biggest break?

I would say there have been two. The first was definitely getting a call from The Balmoral Hotel and they have been so amazing from the start. Chefs, Kev Sutherland and Jeff Bland, who first took a punt on us and stuck by us when we were still refining and improving the flavours and production and then on to Gary Robinson and head pastry chef Ross Sneddon who have continued to develop the relationship and give us opportunities with new products.They really are amazing.

Secondly, launching the pastry butter sheets in February 2020. We had spent ten months developing them with Edinburgh bakers Twelve Triangles and with Ross at The Balmoral so we knew we were onto something. However, we had to spend the time to get it absolutely right as there is so much more to it than you might think.

When Covid hit in March 2020 we lost 95 per cent of our sales overnight. Thankfully the following week of lockdown saw sales leads on the butter sheets start to convert. We’re now in a position where we’re doing ten times the volume that we were doing prior to the first lockdown.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We want to become the number one premium butter and dairy products producer within the UK. Secondly, we want to show that there is a way that dairy can make economic sense within Scotland. If we’re able to prove that, we can then allow farmers to take decisions on herd management that can bring benefits to animal welfare and the environment.

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

More of an appreciation and real support for small business would be a start -from people that have actually been there and done it, without any strings attached. I think the support networks that are out there at a local and regional level are at best a joke and at worst a heinous waste of public money.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

If you don’t know the answer, know who does.

How do you relax?

Infrequently, but when I do I’ll be walking the dog and drinking Sauvignon Blanc with Hils, not necessarily at the same time.