ONE of the longest-serving figures in the Scottish retail and wholesale trade, Ian McDonald, is set to retire from Glasgow-based JW Filshill after a career spanning over 40 years.


McDonald, who has been instrumental in growing the KeyStore brand in Scotland and the north of England, will remain with the business working on a number of projects before stepping down in January 2018.


Craig Brown, until recently co-owner of the west of Scotland-based retail, food and drink consultancy Ross & Brown, has joined Filshill in the newly-created role of retail sales director and will hold responsibility for all sales activities within the business.


“Ian has made an invaluable contribution to Filshill over the last 41 years and there can be few delivered wholesalers across the UK, let alone Scotland, fortunate enough to have an individual of Ian’s calibre driving and developing their retail business,” said Simon Hannah, managing director of Filshill.


“He will leave behind a legacy of innovation, professionalism and passion having worked with his team to drive up standards in the convenience store sector and help countless independent family businesses become more successful in an ever-evolving and challenging retail marketplace.”


McDonald’s highlights at Filshill include winning the Morning Noon & Night business of 50 stores – delivering turnover of £30 million – in 2004. He has forged very strong relationships with key customers such as Scotmid, G101, Vino, Park’s of Hamilton, Margiotta’s of Edinburgh, CalMac and the Scottish Prison Service as well as many independent retailers across the country.


In 2013, he achieved an industry first in recruiting the Clydebank Co-op to KeyStore in a collaboration which has seen the co-operative grow its grocery business and adopt a new localised product offering.


Hannah continued: “Ian’s foresight and understanding of the growing data-led culture within the retail sector has been instrumental in our decision to focus significantly on supporting our customers with Epos systems. He was also responsible for bringing Shopflow – third party supply – to Filshill and this currently has a turnover in excess of £6 million.”


In recent years, Filshill has secured a number of national contracts with customers including CalMac and the Scottish Prison Service. The company historically supported Key Lekkerland with its national supply to Nestlé Express Vending, Blockbuster and numerous cinema contracts across the UK. “All of this business is down to Ian McDonald and his sales team,” said Hannah.


Currently supplying over 175 independent KeyStore outlets across Scotland and the north of England, Filshill is a member of the Today’s Group. All KeyStore retailers qualify for membership of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation or Association of Convenience Stores.


McDonald said: “KeyStore has grown to become a major force in the convenience store sector. We continue to attract new independent family retailers and believe that KeyStore gives them a strong brand identity in a busy convenience marketplace.


“There are numerous exciting and new initiatives coming up and I am delighted to be leaving the business in such a position of strength. I thank Simon and the team – including his father, Filshill’s chairman Ronnie Hannah – for all their support over the years and wish them and Craig Brown every future success.”


Brown, who has 20-plus years’ experience in the retail sector, played a key role as part of a Sainsbury’s team that delivered £12 million additional sales annually, enhancing the retailer’s Scottish market share and, indeed, achieving its highest-ever market share.


While at Ross & Brown he played a key role in securing an industry-leading deal to supply Asda with Scottish craft beer from members of the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, a division of Filshill.


“When the opportunity to join Filshill in a full-time capacity arose I jumped at it,” said Brown. “Having worked with Simon, commercial director Chris Miller and Ian on a consultancy basis for the last two years I know the company well – I understand its strong family values and sense of pride it has across all aspects of its business.


“Ian has big shoes to fill but he leaves the business in great shape and I am ready to hit the ground running. The convenience sector is forecast to grow 17.7% to £47.1 billion in the next five years (source: IGD) so we need to be pro-active in our approach – we can do that with our multi-format offer comprising KeyStore, KeyStore Express and our new KeyStore More fascia.”


In addition to working on Craft Beer Clan projects, Brown has been developing a new fresh and chill concept for Filshill in partnership with Glasgow-based Lomond – The Wholesale Food Co. He also has experience of working with many Scottish producers, which fits in well with Filshill’s strategy to encourage convenience stores to place more emphasis on locally-sourced food and drink brands.


Hannah said: “Ian leaves Filshill with our very best wishes for the future – we thank him for his sterling contribution and are delighted that he will work in tandem with Craig over the next few months in order to allow him to move our growing and hugely successful retail business to the next level.


“Craig has spent all of his working life in retail and his depth of experience with multiples such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Safeway makes him ideally suited to drive our retail business forward, bringing multiple retail thinking and adapting that to local community-based retailing.


“The blend of experience from both sides of the retail sector provides Filshill and our customers with an exciting platform for the future.”