A Highland company that started in its founder’s kitchen has plans to open its seventh shop and export to a third continent after seeing a surge in demand for its products at home and abroad.
Fort William-based Highland Soap Co. aims to open a new retail store in Aviemore next month, creating three jobs.
It is also recruiting for a commis chef, a barista and a workshop assistant for its visitor centre and Larder Cafe at the foot of Ben Nevis when it reopens later this month.
It will bring the workforce to 50, up from 35 in the last year.
The company has struck an agreement with a supplier to retailers in Hong Kong to export its products, adding to the 350 retail stockists already established across Europe and North America.
Company founder Emma Parton says success in the past year has been driven by factors including a thriving website and consumer habits shifting towards supporting local and environmentally responsible companies.
Highland Soaps, which specialises in producing luxury handmade bath, body and skincare products inspired by the landscape, has reported a 25% increase in sales for the 2020/21 financial year, a four-fold increase on 2017, despite the challenges faced by businesses during the pandemic.
Shopping habits have changed
Ms Parton, who started the family-run company in 2001, said: “During the past year, shopping habits have changed with many customers favouring local, sustainable businesses and products made by hand by skilled craftspeople.
“We believe that our products are the finest and most ethical soap and skincare products made in Scotland and are proud that our customers across the globe have continued to support us throughout the pandemic.
“We are excited to announce that we will open our seventh retail store in Scotland next month in Aviemore. The shop and our expansion into Hong Kong will enable more customers to experience Highland Soap Co.’s range of organic, natural products in person and will mark the start of a new and exciting chapter for the company.
“We have always prided ourselves on being the greenest makers of soaps and skincare products in Scotland and have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to reducing unnecessary plastic.
“This year, we have gone a step further by committing to packaging our shampoo, body washes and conditioners in 250ml bottles made of biopolymer, a plastic made from sugarcane. This renewable source needs little more than natural rainfall to grow and we plan to extend this sustainable form of packaging to our other product lines as soon as we are able to do so.”
Highland Soap Co announced plans for the Fort William factory and visitor centre in 2019. Last year, the company responded to the Covid-19 outbreak by developing a range of scented hand sanitisers made with 70% alcohol sourced from a Highland distiller.