From Food Hampers to Family Life - What It Means To Be A Dad

by Stewart 13. June 2013 18:38

Somebody I met at a networking event the other day gave me his observation of what it meant to be a father: “At work I am respected by my colleagues, I have control of my day and people listen to me when I speak.... at home I am often powerless to control matters and mostly the children simply don’t listen!”. This successful entrepreneur and Managing Director had a look of confusion as he delivered the words. It was easy to tell that he found this situation very puzzling, yet at the same time he had completely accepted the two worlds he now lived in.

(The England Family. From Left to right: Freya, Pia, Alice, Max & David.)

My children are relatively young – Freya 8, Alice 7 and Max 5 – so it is too early for me to accept defeat, although I fully understand his predicament. In simple terms I am outnumbered, and it is surely only a matter of time before I succumb! As they grow older I expect to willingly except this fate and enjoy all its nuances on the way.

At the moment all three are still small enough to know that Daddy is in charge (providing Mummy is not around of course). They are absorbing the meaning of life from listening to adults who forget they are in the room, happily copying the older delinquent children at school, and hearing “bad things” on the radio. This information overload forms a lovely cocktail of questions and assertive statements.

“Daddy, your arms are hairy because you used to be a gorilla”

“Daddy, do people believe that God made Adam and Eve from dust?”

“Don’t worry Daddy, if you need some money the bank will give you some”

“Daddy, maybe you will be as clever as Grandpa when you are older”

Last Easter the family gathered in the kitchen for lunch. My children had painstakingly created table decorations to mark the occasion. This is when Max gleefully delivered my favourite line of the year so far:

“Mummy, these three little chickens are Freya, me and Alice... and this fat bird in the middle is you!”

It is the simple things that make being a dad so wonderful. The humorous conversation, endless questions which you struggle to answer, talking to them on the phone, talking to them in “snail language”, telling “little boy stories” from your own childhood, learning to ride a bike, the superhereos, crazy dancing, terrible singing, fancy dress, inappropriate makeup, lost keys, broken doors, car art, water bombs, snow balls, Friday sweets, rabbits, buggies, pet lambs, dog in drag, pony riding, swimming lessons, death by violin and lovely Lego strewn across the floor like an endless unavoidable minefield!

I know I must suck it all in and treasure these moments. I have been advised by higher authority that little children only create little problems... and that bigger children create bigger problems... bring it on!

Happy Father’s Day!

P.S. Have you got your Fathers Day gift organsised yet, if not head over to www.highlandfayre.co.uk to see our range of Fathers Day Hampers.

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History of Luxury Hampers – The Highland Fayre Story Part 2

by Stewart 11. June 2013 18:30

It was 1991; Britain was in the midst of a recession and luxury was no longer seen as a priority. Highland Fayre needed to re-evaluate its product offering and start producing affordable luxury hampers to cater for a broader requirement. You could not help but think that history was repeating itself from the old wild salmon days.

(The Highland Fayre Team 2005.)

It was during this time that David (Howard’s son and current Managing Director) joined the business. Fresh out a university and keen to make his mark in the world, David set about injecting innovation within the business, despite having an incredibly small budget to work with!


Reminiscing about his earlier days, David remembers fondly driving along the bypass “lorry-spotting” for potential customers. This was often David’s way of creating new appointments with clients by spotting a company phone number and immediately calling them from his car phone (which I’m told didn’t have the latest version of Angry Birds and looked more like an infantry field radio than the chic cellar devices of today).

It is also worth mentioning another name that has been an integral part of the Highland Fayre history. Joining the company a couple of years before David back in 1988, Carol Hart (or should we say Carol Brown now) was 16 when she started working for Howard as an assistant for the “tattie business”. Now our Operations Manager, Carol is the brains behind the look and feel of our gift hampers. It is mainly thanks to her vision that our hampers are so well received.

Despite the recession Highland Fayre managed to grow steadily between 1991 and 1997. However, it was around September 1997 that our luxury hamper brand really started to take off. Launching the first ever website – www.highlandfayre.co.uk - and a second website a year later - www.christmashamper.com –resulted in our turnover climbing every year for the next decade. Our original motivation for moving onto the web was to gain more corporate business but the internet also gave Highland Fayre an excellent opportunity to do more for private customers.

Our efforts didn’t go unnoticed either as in 2005 we received an award for the Best Performing Business in Tayside as well as runners up in the e-Commerce business awards.

In the present day, David has swapped his “car phone tactics” to a more modern approach using Linkedin to find clients. And as for Carol she is now approaching her 25th year anniversary with the company. All in all, Highland Fayre intends to do what we do best and that is providing you all with delicious hampers. While you have read about our past, we hope you will all be part of our future!

Many thanks for your continued support

The Highland Fayre Team

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Highland Fayre Luxury Hamper Raises £250 at Annual WAGS Charity Dinner

by Stewart 5. June 2013 00:02

It was great to hear last week that our donated Luxury Willow Basket Hamper raised £250 during the silent auction at the WAGS Charity Dinner in Aberdeen. In total the event raised an incredible £43,000 and will be given to Quarriers to invest in its fieldworkers service.

A Quarrier’s fieldworker supports families and individuals dealing with epilepsy. Whether it be helping an individual who may be having employment issues, aiding a family struggling to come to terms with a recent diagnoses, or a teenager dealing with medication issues, these funds will help fieldworkers to provide a better quality of care.

(Quarrier fieldworker offering a helping hand!)

The WAGS charity dinner was originally started 20 years ago by Aberdeen comedian William “Buff” Hardie and since then it has grown in popularity. Tickets and tables are so highly sought after that the event has even taken bookings for next years dinner.

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History of Luxury Hampers - The Highland Fayre Story Part 1

by Stewart 1. June 2013 01:39

Here’s a little bit of Highland Fayre trivia I bet you didn’t know about us… We haven’t always been in the luxury hamper game! In fact before we produced our first gift hampers some thirty years ago we were actually in the potato trade with two key customers, McCain’s and Walkers Crisps.

(The Original Highland Fayre Logo.)

In 1983, our founder Howard England made one of the most important decisions of his life to go out and pursue his own way in the potato merchant industry. Over the coming years he built himself a highly successful business, but by being so dependent on only two potato customers he was constantly mindful of the risks he faced.

It wasnt until 1985 that Howard spotted the opportunity he needed to diversify. While the wild salmon market was thriving, Howard began selling this delicacy and started building a luxurious, upmarket brand identity in the form of Highland Fayre. In fact while Howard can take credit for identifying and pursuing this new business venture, it was actually his wife Hazel who was the brainchild behind the name Highland Fayre during a family meeting one night.

(Highland Fayre began selling wild salmon before it entered into the Luxury Hamper market.)

After two successful years of being in the wild salmon market, Howard found the legs cut out from underneath of him. Due to the rise of large salmon fish farms in west of Scotland, there was suddenly a huge increase in the supply of smoked salmon and hence the “wild product” could not compete on price or volume.

Hope was not lost. With fire in his belly and his merchant instincts kicking in, Howard spotted a new opportunity to capitalise on… Luxury Gift Hampers.

BOOOOM! The 80’s were in full swing and with more and more people living extravagant lifestyles this gave fuel to the fire for Howard to start his own hamper business and produce upmarket luxury hampers. Having obtained an Off-Sales License for alcohol and sourcing suppliers for a new own label Highland Fayre range, he soon launched his luxury brand onto the market.

(One of Highland Fayres earlier Food Hampers.)

He would see his decision to pursue this venture pay off in the years to come. However, a deep recession was looming and in order to survive in a failing economy Highland Fayre would have to change its product offering and bring in some youthful innovation.

To be continued……

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