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Planning in Moray: Change of use for Baxters Highland Village

By Alistair Whitfield

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Planning permission is being sought to find a new use for the buildings that used to house Baxters Highland Village.

Baxters Highland Village near Fochabers.
Baxters Highland Village near Fochabers.

Baxters closed the restaurant and retail units next to its factory near Fochabers in February, with the loss of about 30 jobs.

Through an agent the food company has now applied to Moray Council to use the buildings for "e-commerce and storage".

A statement from the company at the time of the closure said: "Like many hospitality and retail businesses, the pandemic has exacerbated the already challenging trading conditions, meaning the future of the Highland Village is untenable."

Baxters has been active on other fronts over recent years as it continues to diversify away from the soups, preserves and condiments with which the company originally came to national and international prominence during the 1950s.

Last December it paid an undisclosed sum for Truitt Bros, a US-based business with more than 500 employees, which thermally-processes foods such as fruits, vegetables and desserts.

In addition, July 2020 saw Baxters pay £6.6million for Orexis Fresh Foods.

This north London firm, which has about 75 staff, specialises in chilled ready-to-eat products, such as guacamole, tzatziki, hummus and taramasalata.

Baxters also shifted its headquarters to Edinburgh in 2018.

However Audrey Baxter, the company's CEO and great-granddaughter of its founder, maintains that Fochabers will always remain its "spiritual home".

Regarding the planning bid, a spokesperson for Baxters Food Group said: "The application for change of use is to ensure the former Highland Village site has flexibility for any potential future business growth plans.

"It does not have any impact on the Fochabers factory."

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