Tina Cunningham is the chief executive of Border Biscuits.

The company bakes more than one million biscuits per day at its factory in Lanark, most of which find their way on to the shelves of the UK's biggest supermarkets and independent retailers.

Now celebrating its 40th year in business, Ms Cunningham said Border holds true to founder John Cunningham's values of "putting product, people, excellence, success, conduct and community at the heart of everything we do".

What is your business called?

Border Biscuits.

Where is it based?

Lanark has been our home since the founder of Border Biscuits, John Cunningham, established the business in 1984. As we have grown over the years, we have increased our head count and expanded the factory to what it is today. We celebrate our 40th birthday this year and are very proud to remain at the heart of the Lanark community.

What does it produce/do?

We’re a family business and proud to be Scotland’s premium biscuit brand, producing more than one million award-winning biscuits every single day. As well as producing the popular dark chocolate gingers, we have a 19-strong range of classic biscuits and convenient biscuit bars. These include a variety of flavours such as lemon drizzle, butterscotch crunch, light and buttery Viennese whirl, golden oat crunch, dark chocolate orange and most recently, our award-winning dark chocolate raspberry, meaning our biscuits are universally liked – from children to grandparents.

These much-loved flavours, alongside our chocolate biscuit bars and extremely popular sharing pack, which contains a selection of Border’s most favourite biscuits, provide our customers with a variety of products to suit every biscuit moment and occasion.

Border was started with just four members of staff and some very basic biscuit making machinery. It was a very humble beginning.

Over the past 40 years, we have kept true to John’s core values of putting product, people, excellence, success, conduct and community at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we are a real living wage employer, and we find ourselves ingrained in the local community. In fact, we have given more than £1 million to local good causes through our charity Border Community Support.

To whom does it sell?

You’ll find our biscuits on the shelves in all the major supermarkets as well as online retailers. We are also stocked in a broad range of independent retailers so our biscuits can pretty much be purchased wherever you are in the UK.

Our mini packs are found in many premium outlets across the whole hospitality and leisure sector, and we export to multiple international markets.

What is its turnover?

Turnover is currently upwards of £20 million.

How many employees?

We are one of the biggest employers in Lanark and currently have around 200 employees, most of whom are local, and we are always looking for ways to positively impact the local community.

We have an extremely hard-working and dedicated team, and as we celebrate our 40th birthday this week, we also celebrate our people and the community who have played a key part in our journey and success.

Why did you take the plunge?

After the loss of our founder John, it was a time of sadness at Border. He had driven the company to be the success that it is today, from those first 10 years when there were only four products and the mission was really about survival, to the next 10 years and beyond which were about growth, innovation, and development.

I wanted to step in to support the workforce and our commitment to the community and to assure them that Border Biscuits’ core values would be upheld. In that sense, I see myself as a caretaker for John’s legacy – after all, we remain to this day a family bakery. I was already very immersed in the business. John had even trained me on all the different uses and functions of all the machinery in the factory, so everything was very familiar when I took over.

What were you doing before?

I have a background working in the third sector in Scotland and had previously been community support director with Border.

What do you least enjoy?

As a manufacturing business inevitably, there will be some wastage, which I hate to see. However, one of our key targets is to continuously drive waste down and we have committed to becoming a net-zero business. For example, we have removed 90% of plastic packaging from our products.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To continue to grow and build on innovation and automation - we are already doing that well, and success for me would be to continue to grow in those areas. In 2019, we invested in new machinery which allowed us to launch into the chocolate biscuit bar category, by individually wrapping them. We also recently launched a brand-new flavour - dark chocolate raspberry - which taps into the increased demand for raspberry flavoured innovations.

Another key ambition is to continue supporting our local community, which has become a key value for the business. This is enshrined in everything that we do, and along with making great biscuits, it makes the business more meaningful.

We can’t control the future but sometimes we can create something that will be a benefit for the future. To me, a successful business should exist to serve society, and we are proud to make a difference in our own community. That's why we donate 10% of our profits to local causes every year via Border Biscuits Community Support. We also run a profit share scheme for all our employees.

What single thing would most help?

Bringing down inflation would help lower costs for running the business and allow us to free up funds to help invest in innovation. Operating a factory requires a tremendous amount of energy; if inflation was not as high this would become less of a burden.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Ultimately, we are a manufacturing business and in manufacturing, no two days are ever the same. So, you need to always be ready, as there will always be unexpected challenges which you need to contend with. Having said that, it is these challenges which drive us forward and allow us to continue to grow and develop.

Where do you find yourself most at ease?

I find myself to be most at ease on the factory floor – I try to get down several times a week. We make good honest biscuits – 40 years of love, care and effort go into each and every one. Being able to see the process, from the mixing of ingredients to the deliveries going out to customers, gives me confidence and a sense of pride that we are making the absolute best product for people to enjoy across all the different moments of daily life.

If you weren’t in your current role, what job would you most fancy?

If you ask anyone in the office, they will know that when I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. However, my family were all very business-orientated, so it was quickly dismissed!

What phrase or quotation has inspired you the most?

I have a mantra which I use if I ever feel like I need to reset - ‘Back to zero, Fresh intelligence’. It allows me to take a second to compose myself and gain a change in perspective to help me move through any difficult situations.

What is the best book you have ever read? Why is it the best?

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson – it’s a great reference book that provides simple yet profound rules to live by.

What has been your most challenging moment in life or business?

Aside from being a mother to my five-year-old twins, it is also being the person who makes the final decision and having to make those decisions without the guidance and advice of the one person that you trust the most in life.

What do you now know that you wish you had known when starting out in your career?

Coming from Singapore, I didn’t realise quite how different business practices were in the east compared to the west. The whole work culture is completely different. It would have been much easier to have known and understood the work culture here before I moved over to help with that transition.