There is for good reason plenty of hand-wringing over Scotland’s loss of major company headquarters in recent decades, which makes it all the more important to toast the successes of big players that are still firmly rooted here.

Glasgow-based Edrington is perhaps not a household name. However, the same cannot be said of its brands, which include The Macallan, The Famous Grouse and Highland Park.

And many people might be surprised at the scale of the business, especially given that it is owned by a charitable trust as opposed to being listed on the stock market.

While it is always impossible to know counterfactual scenarios for sure, it seems likely this ownership structure has very much helped Edrington evolve into the business it is today, as opposed to having been a hindrance.

It has been refreshing over the decades to watch Edrington’s ability to take a long-term view, as it has invested heavily but shrewdly for future success. And its growth into a player with real clout in the global spirits market is no mean feat.

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As Edrington has evolved, we have seen Scotland lose two big bank head offices. Other big names such as Scottish & Newcastle, Kwik-Fit, ScottishPower, Stakis, Aggreko and Stagecoach have been acquired.

Edrington’s considered approach has been in stark contrast to what is all too often short-termism among stock market listed companies across a raft of sectors. This short-termism sometimes resembles headless chicken behaviour.

In too many cases, organisations destroy value through cost-cutting that is straight out of the management consultants’ playbooks but is often absolutely the last thing that is needed.

That is not to say that this is always the case with companies listed on the stock market but it is a lot of the time. We also see damaging short-termism frequently in companies backed by private equity.

In too many of these businesses, inspirational leadership is lacking and executive pay structures reward the unimaginative and counter-productive behaviour of cost-cutting.

Leaders with the will to jettison jobs, rather than with a growth vision, are often a feature of stock market listed companies and businesses backed by private equity. Of course, this also applies to middle management in such organisations.

Such short-term behaviour seems far less common, thankfully, in the likes of family firms or enterprises in other forms of private ownership.

Edrington’s history is fascinating and the charitable Robertson Trust’s control of the Scotch whisky group can be traced back to family ownership.

The charitable trust was put in place by the Robertson sisters, Elspeth, Agnes and Ethel (known as "Babs"), back in 1961, when they donated their shares in Robertson & Baxter and Clyde Bonding Company to a new parent company, Edrington.

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Sir Ian Good, who played an enormous part in Edrington’s evolution over decades, told The Herald when he stepped down as the company’s chairman in 2013: “The reason the charity was set up [was] because there were three maiden ladies who held the shares in the family businesses. They were all born around the turn of the century - they would be around the 60 mark. They realised [that] when they died, the company would have to be sold to pay death duties. At that time, death duties were 80%.

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"This is where [merchant banking adviser] Morgan Grenfell came in. They took the best advice about what they could do. The advice was they would give up their shares. They would put them into a company. That company they named as Edrington...because that was the name of one of their farms."

Sir Ian, who had responded in the late 1960s to an advertisement in the Glasgow Herald seeking a newly qualified accountant for Edrington, said back in 2013: "In the early days, the trust was very small because the company was relatively small...In the early days, the donations were pretty small. In fact, in 1969, they gave donations of £90,000.

"In 2013, the year to 5th April 2013, the figure is £15.3 million. That is entirely because the business has grown."

Edrington's growth into a major global player was enabled by the bold but essential £601m acquisition of the then stock market listed Highland Distillers in 1999, a deal driven by Sir Ian and backed financially by the family-owned William Grant & Sons. This deal came 20 years after the long-time Edrington head, then at the tender age of 36, appeared before the competition authorities to argue successfully why distiller Hiram Walker should not be allowed to acquire Highland.

In the 2013 interview, Sir Ian revealed he had been worried that another bidder might come in for Highland around the time Edrington acquired the business. Highland was Edrington's joint venture partner for The Famous Grouse.

Thankfully, everything worked out the way it did, from the perspective of the Scotch whisky sector, Glasgow and the broader Scottish economy, Edrington’s employees, and the many causes The Robertson Trust supports. Edrington employs more than 3,500 people in its wholly owned and joint venture companies.

The Robertson Trust provides funding for organisations and initiatives in Scotland that address financial security (to tackle “the financial and material effects of poverty on people and communities”), emotional wellbeing and relationships, and education and work pathways.

In the year to March 31, 2013, Edrington achieved a 13% rise in pre-tax profits before exceptional items to £168.6m on the back of a 6% increase in revenues to a then record £591.3m. This was pretty impressive.

Last week, it announced pre-tax profits before exceptional items were £387.7m in the year to March 31, 2023, up by 43% on the prior 12 months.

Core revenue, generated from Edrington’s spirit brands, leapt by 22% to £1.082 billion, passing the £1bn mark for the first time.

Reflecting on more than four decades with Edrington back in 2013, at The Robertson Trust's offices on Bath Street, Sir Ian noted that the charitable trust had between its foundation in 1961 and that point given more than £125m to charities. This is certainly impressive enough.

Edrington, which now has Scott McCroskie as its chief executive and Crawford Gillies as chairman, noted last week that The Robertson Trust had now donated £343m to charitable causes in Scotland since 1961.

This figure, along with the latest profit and revenue numbers, gives a crystal-clear indication of just how successful the business has been under its relatively uncommon structure.

And, at a time when there is much to be despondent about in terms of the loss of big Scottish company headquarters, Edrington’s success and The Robertson Trust’s work are surely matters for celebration.