Shaws targets sustainable growth as it nears its 130th birthday

One of Yorkshire’s oldest and most-respected food companies is targeting “steady and sustainable growth” as it prepares to celebrate its 130th year of doing business.

25 June 2019...... Trainee graduate Annie Shaw, the sixth generation at family business Shaws in Huddersfield, a company set up by George Shaw, pictured, in 1889 now making chutneys and relishes. Picture Tony Johnson.

Shaws is one of Huddersfield’s most recognisable brands, having been producing pickles, chutneys and other foodstuffs since 1889.

The firm is now home to the sixth generation of the Shaw family, with Annie Shaw now working at the firm founded by her great- great-great grandfather, George.

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25 June 2019...... The production line at the sixth generation family business Shaws in Huddersfield, a company set up by George Shaw in 1889 now making chutneys and relishes. Picture Tony Johnson.

The 24-year-old is a graduate from Huddersfield University in business studies with environmental management and is now working managing the production of the foodstuffs in its Silver Street factory.

Ms Shaw joins at an exciting time for the firm.

It is currently being distributed nationally in Morrisons with strong regional deals in place with both Tesco and Asda.

Its turnover has soared 50 per cent in the last three years and the business with its 26 employees produces 34,000 kg of food per week.

25 June 2019...... sixth generation family business Shaws in Huddersfield, a company set up by George Shaw in 1889 now making chutneys and relishes. Picture Tony Johnson.

For Ms Shaw, who has worked elsewhere for a civil engineering firm and as an operations manager in a housing development business, working in her family business was the only choice that mattered to her.

So when managing director Jan Docker encouraged her to come on board she jumped at the opportunity.

“I always thought about it as something I would like to do,” she told The Yorkshire Post.

“I finished university three years ago. Jan said it is a really good time to come and join Shaws.

“We have been going for 130 years, we can’t stop now. I had a few jobs but I have never worked anywhere as good as here. Everyone gets along.

“It is a big responsibility but I can only hope to follow in their footsteps.”

Ms Shaw officially came on board as a graduate trainee, working on doing “various bits and bobs in the factory”.

For her, learning the business from the ground up was her focus, allowing her to understand the mechanics of the operations.

She said: “I have worked on the line. I worked as the line lead – ensuring the line runs properly.

“When you work down here you have to, for a new person to come down onto the line it is a lot to learn.

“But I think you get quite a lot from it because you have a different day every day.”

Her focus on the technical aspect mirrors that of her father who was heavily involved in the production process during his time with the business.

Her uncle, Matthew Shaw, remains involved with the business as chairman.

Like many family businesses, the aim from Ms Shaw and her team is on manageable growth.

“We want it to be sustainable. Our aim is on growing the brand.

“Market trends have been changing recently. When you compare it to 20 years ago, a lot of British people have a more substantial pallet and enjoy more variety in their diets.

“In the future, I think you will see more spicy products. I have seen a lot of a higher interest.”

Another priority for Annie is keeping the Huddersfield name as part of the branding.

Aside from being proud of her roots she believes the town and wider region’s reputation for food production is a boon to the products appeal.

“We do tie ourselves to Yorkshire,” she said.

“It has lots of positives. It is nice to shout about it.

“People might think of it as all heavy industry but it is not of course.

“It is a beautiful town on the edge of beautiful countryside.

“Huddersfield is such a wonderful place with so many wonderful landmarks and great people.”