A clear emphasis on quality based on strong family connections and an excellent workforce has enabled Isle of Lewis-based Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon to develop a leading reputation within the marketplace, underlined by its success at the 2014 Great Taste Awards.
“My father and uncle bought the fishing lodge in 1981 and let out a house for fishing parties and holidays before setting up a small smokery in 1984 with the assistance of my maternal grandfather, who used to smoke salmon in Ireland,” explains Dickon Green, who co-owns the company with his wife. “We lived down in Worcestershire on a farm and ran the lodge and the smokery on a part-time basis and selling the salmon to restaurants and hotels mainly in the UK. It was a very small set up that carried on through the 1980s and 1990s with the business being further bolstered by the addition of a mail order business.
“In the late 1980s the company switched to farm salmon because it made more sense and wild salmon wasn’t really sustainable. I got involved in the business around 12 years ago with a view to expanding it further into a more serious operation and myself and my wife, Elly, moved up to look after it full-time three years ago.”
As the operation has developed and grown the quality has remained a constant, hence the award recognition that has come its way. “It means a huge amount to receive the Great Taste Award recognition, not only to us but also to our employees who have been so dedicated down the years and have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty,” adds Mr Green. “They really put the work in, especially over the festive period when things tend to go a bit crazy. The award is also great recognition for my father and uncle who set up the business with my grandfather’s input all those years. We’ve been nominated three times in the last four years and had previously just missed out on the major ones so to go that bit further and actually get the recognition has been fantastic for the entire family and the workforce.”
The Great Taste Award win has coincided with the launch of new retail packaging that Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon has brought in to help maintain the momentum it has built up. “We are now looking to further develop our retail arm in terms of the delicatessens and fine food shops, as there is a huge customer base for fine food delis and food outlets. We haven’t really tapped into that market yet so that’s where I see us growing the business over the next few years.”
“It means a huge amount to receive the Great Taste Award recognition, not only to us but also to our employees who have been so dedicated down the years and have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty. They really put the work in, especially over the festive period when things tend to go a bit crazy. The award is also great recognition for my father and uncle who set up the business with my grandfather’s input all those years.”
Dickon Green, Co-owner
The provenance that Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon is able to demonstrate is in more demand now than ever as a result of the food scares that the UK has seen in recent years, which has driven up consumer interest in where the products they buy comes from. “There is a wealth of great produce up here in the Hebrides including fish obviously but marketing it is perhaps an area that hasn’t reached its potential. It’s therefore a case of getting our name out there more and sending samples out.
“We’re slightly obsessive about quality, which is partly why we have been able to be so consistent. There’s always going to be variations with fish because it’s a natural product so the skill is being able to vary our approach accordingly to suit. It’s all about having a keen eye for detail and when you’re a relatively small operation, like we are, this is much easier to do. In contrast, when producers grow too large it becomes all the more difficult to retain a strong level of quality control.
“In the short to medium term we’re fortunate to have plenty of capacity to comfortably meet the growing demand that we’re seeing following our award success.”
Having come through the busy seasonal period Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon is continuing to focus very much on the UK market, which remains its core sector. “We’re more than happy to stick with smoked salmon, as that’s what we know and what we’re good at,” concludes Mr Green. “We’re certainly not into expanding our range to include a wide variety of products just for the sake of it. I believe that if we continue to develop our business and concentrate on getting the quality and the consistency right then we will keep growing.”