Lifelong egg producer Robert Chapman is handing over control of his family's Aberdeenshire business to his son Iain.

The senior Mr Chapman is giving up the post of managing director of Farmlay, which packs nearly five million eggs each week for retailers including Morrisons, Aldi, Spar and Lidl. However, the 67-year-old will remain as executive chairman of the business.

“It’s just natural succession,” said Mr Chapman, who left school at 15 with the dream of owning 100,000 hens and 1,000 acres of farmland. Today Farmlay owns 450,000 hens - with a further 550,000 owned by contract producers - and has 2,500 acres of land.

 The Herald: Robert and Iain ChapmanRobert and Iain Chapman (Image: Farmlay)

“My father let me get on with making my mark on the farm and it’s only right that I do the same for Iain," he added.

"I love everything about Farmlay; especially all the people who have been on this amazing journey with us. But I owe it to my wife Ethel - who has worked alongside me growing the business and been the most marvellous support - to finally spend some more time with her and the grandchildren.”

Apart from his studies at SRUC and a spell of travelling in Australia, the younger Mr Chapman has worked for Farmlay since he was old enough to help collect eggs. The 40-year-old said he is keen to further expand the business in what he believes will be a "golden age" for producers following the shortages of eggs on supermarket shelves in 2022.

“Nobody wants to see that happen again - least of all the supermarkets - and the five-year rolling contracts we now have in place are providing an exciting opportunity to other farmers,” he said. 

“There is a good return to be had from hens; ideal for a member of the family wanting to come home to the farm or for those looking for diversification. These new long-term contracts mean our market is more profitable than ever, with full costs tracking for feed, energy and labour leaving a good margin. 

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“We work with farmers every step of the way, from planning permission for sheds, through to building work, lighting, supplying the birds, feeding, audits and support with all the paperwork. As farmers ourselves we understand what we need to offer help and support with.” 

Iain Chapman's wife, Debbie, will be joining the board of directors and working alongside her husband in the Farmlay office. 

“Like dad who has had mum by his side, I am lucky that Debbie works within the business,” said Iain, who is father to six-year-old Megan, three-year-old Molly and seven-month-old Emma. 

“She’s had her hands full recently with the girls, but the time’s right for us now and we’re excited about following in mum and dad’s footsteps.”