"Be different, be better". The words of George Baxter encapsulate such a simple principle, yet they laid the foundations for our Scottish family business that has spanned four generations.
From small beginnings, in 1868 25-year-old George Baxter was working as a gardener for the Duke of Richmond and Gordon on the Gordon Estate when he decided, with encouragement from friends and family, to start his own grocery business.
To do this, George borrowed £100 from family members to open a small shop in the Speyside village of Fochabers. Here, in the back shop, his wife Margaret began making jams and jellies with fruits from the local area. They are an instant hit with the Duke and his many guests and this quality ensures Baxter's delicious products find their way onto the table at Gordon Castle.
In 1916, George and Margaret's son, William, bought some land from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Together with his wife Ethel, he built a factory and positioned it exactly 120 yards from the River Spey. While Ethel created an exceptional range of jams, William travelled by bicycle and train to market them the length and breadth of Scotland.
Inspired by a the sheer abundance of fine local produce, in 1929, Ethel Baxter began creating a range of high-quality soups including the original recipe for the now-famous Royal Game soup with venison from the hills of Upper Speyside.
A turning point in the Baxters story is when talented artist and cook, Ena Baxter, joined the family business in 1952 and, with husband Gordon, created an exciting new range of Scottish soups based on traditional recipes including Cock-a-Leekie, Scotch Broth and Chicken Broth. The foundations for the present day Baxters enterprise were set.
Baxters' commitment to food of the highest quality brought recognition from royalty during the 1950s. HM Queen Elizabeth II, HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and HM Gustav VI, King of Sweden grant Royal Warrants of Appointment to the company for manufacturers of Scottish Food Specialties.
By the 1960s, Baxters was now supplying fine quality soups to shops and delicatessen stores all over the world. In this same decade, Gordon and Ena developed 'The Best of Scotland' concept, which includes speciality foods, gift packs and tabletop accessories for top department stores in Europe, America, South Africa, Japan and Australia. Gordon and Ena Baxter were inundated with orders. The company's reputation for innovation continued in 1962 when Baxters became the first company in Britain to introduce twist-top caps on 12oz jars for preserves.
From the 1970s, a number of successful TV appearances, both at home and abroad, secured Ena Baxter's culinary reputation and helped to revive public interest in traditional Scottish cuisine. At this time, Baxters also became the #1 producer of beetroot products in the UK.
Already established as the UK's leading premium soup brand, in the 1980s, Baxters continued to grow rapidly - thanks to Ena and Gordon's response to ever-changing consumer tastes. It was during this decade that the formidable business duo began to experiment with more exotic flavours, preparing the company for a new and exciting era.
In 1992, Gordon Baxter handed over his title of Managing Director to his daughter Audrey. Together with her brother Andrew, Audrey began to develop an enticing new range of products for both the British and overseas markets.
In the present day, Audrey Baxter and her management team run a company that her great-grandparents could never have dreamed of. The sheer scale of the operation now based in sites throughout Britain and food manufacturing operations in the USA, Australia and Poland, and the science and technology that underlies it may be far removed from the little village shop in Fochabers... but the ethos remains the same. Be different, be better.