Lochaber firm crowned Britain’s best by FSB

Members of the Young Family with their award, from left to right Katie Young (sales and marketing manager) Brian Sharp (activities and experiences), Callum Young (operations manager), Laurence Young (Creator and Captain); Morag Young (matriarch), James Young (development director), Jessica Peach (reception and reservations manager).

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A Lochaber estate has been named the UK Small Business of the Year at the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) annual awards.

Family-run Woodlands Glencoe beat over 3,100 entrants and 132 regional and national award winners to land the top accolade.

Transformed from an arable farm into a luxury tourism destination the business, which includes an estate, café, activity centre, golf course, and 17 luxury lodges, won the accolade because of its impressive growth rate and commitment to the local community. In just over 10 years, the business grew its revenue from £45,000 in 2009 to £900,000 in 2020 and the firm offers their activities free to local fundraising groups.

They now have 22 employees, up from two a decade ago, providing important opportunities in rural Scotland.

Woodlands Glencoe’s development director James Young said: ‘At our heart, we’re a family firm that’s spent more than a decade building and diversifying our business.

‘That’s meant a huge amount of hard work and careful planning, and it is phenomenal to see all of this hard work recognised by FSB.

‘Tourism in Scotland has faced huge challenges over the last year, but we know that our business, industry and country will bounce back. By innovating and investing, we can build back the strength of our sector and our local communities.’

The FSB’s UK Celebrating Small Businesses Awards UK Final took place virtually last Thursday May 27, and was hosted by renowned broadcaster, journalist, and author, Clare Balding, the ceremony featured an address from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who applauded the grit of the UK’s small business community.

FSB Highlands and Islands area lead Tanja Lister said: ‘Being a world-class holiday destination must be matched by world-class businesses. This is exactly what we find in Woodlands Glencoe. The Young family have done a truly amazing job and they are a credit to our region.’

While the Highlands and Islands is home to only a tiny fraction of the UK’s businesses this award follows on from the success of Cruise Loch Ness who won the previous FSB UK Small Business of the Year award.

‘I suspect that these back-to-back wins reflect the amazing ability of Highlands and Islands business owners to think outside the box and innovate, combined with their understanding of their markets, determination, resilience and leadership abilities,’ added Ms Lister.

‘It’s people like the Youngs of Woodlands Glencoe and the MacKenzies of Cruise Loch Ness that will lead our regional economy out of the pandemic.’

Local MSP, and Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, was among the first to offer congratulations. She said: ‘This is a brilliant achievement for a business in the West Highlands.

‘Coming after an impossibly difficult year, I hope this news encourages the company and many others.’

In addition to winning the overall UK Small Business of the Year Award, Woodlands Glencoe also walked away with the UK Business and Product Innovation Award.