Established in 1979 by Jim McLaren as an independent supplier of corrugated cases to the whisky industry, today McLaren Packaging has grown to become a specialist supplier of paper-based packaging to the UK food and drinks sector with a turnover in excess of £45 million.

Employing more than 300 people and operating across seven sites in Scotland, with the headquarters in Inverclyde, McLaren Packaging is led by the second generation of the family, brothers Donald and Michael McLaren.

Donald McLaren, managing director, said: “We are a family business with longterm growth aspirations and a clear strategy to reinvest our profit and cash to increase our product offering and capacity, both organically and through acquisition. The business is firmly embedded in the local community in Inverclyde, from where it was born.

“However, our growth strategy has resulted in us taking on new staff and operations in our new sites in the Central Belt of Scotland, as well as necessitating investment in our senior management team, introducing new skills and talent with no family ties. “Our success has been a direct result of being able to integrate these new employees and skills, while maintaining the ethos and values of a family business, which has served us so well on our journey thus far.”

Avoiding a drama over succession

Succession, the hugely popular American drama series, followed the fortunes of the Roy family and the numerous tricky issues associated with succession dramatised by the show will be familiar to any family business considering the transition from one generation to the next.

Angus MacLeod, head of law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie’s Inverness office, said that planning for succession is important in any business, but particularly so in a family business because “that’s when it can fall apart if the succession isn’t planned well in advance.

“There’s a conundrum for the incumbent managing generation where they might want to retire but might feel that the younger generation have not yet got the appropriate level of experience or skills,” he said. “On the flipside you have a younger generation thinking, ‘I wish they would just get out of my way because I’ve got new ideas’.