Story #16: Campbell’s of Beauly
We really like telling the modern Scottish story… and this journal post is one we’ve been excited about for some time. Last week we caught up with childhood friend, Nicola Sugden and her husband, John to hear about their first 4 years at the helm of the iconic privately owned and family run country tailor and outfitters, Campbell’s of Beauly. Beauly is situated just 10 miles West of Inverness.
Nicola and I have known each other since we were tiny. We started out at primary school together in Ardgay, our families are great friends and Nicola’s father, Charlie Brooke, owns Midfearn Estate so often drops deer off at Ardgay Game. After a number of years in London, the call of the north and a very exciting new project dragged them home. If you’ve been into Campbell’s of Beauly before, you’ll know just how special the experience and place is. If you haven’t and are planning to be in the area, please do. You’ll never buy a mass produced knit again! I bought my kilt before my wedding from them – the tailoring is unreal and it certainly wins me a fair share of comments!
Read on to hear what Nicola had to tell us about the adventure so far, plans for the future of the Highland icon business and their favourite haunts around the area…
The Journey to Campbell’s
Q: How did you meet?
We are childhood family friends so have known each other all of our lives and my late Father-in-Law was my GodFather. We got married 8 years ago, lived in London for a time and then moved up to Beauly in 2015 and the rest is history.
Q: What made you take over Campbells?
John had been working in the manufacturing and textiles industry since leaving University and has always been passionate about cloth and tailoring. Nicola was working in the travel industry and is from the Highlands and knew Campbell’s of Beauly well. We were introduced to the Campbell family by James Sugden (John’s Father) and we discussed the future of the business and where it was going. We could see that is was a wonderful retail emporium and tailoring business with a vast history, dating back to 1858, but with a question mark over it’s future. We were ready for the challenge.
The History of Campbell’s
Q: When did you take over?
We took over the business on the 1st of March 2015 and engrossed ourselves in getting to know our customers and suppliers as both are key aspects to the business. Four years down the line we are carrying on the Campbell’s legacy, maintaining its traditions whilst targeting a new younger customer in order secure our future.
Q: what year was it started & by who?
Campbell’s was founded in 1858 by Mr and Mrs R.W Hepburn. In 1902, their Daughter Margaret married a James Campbell. In 1922 James Campbell took over the running of the business and it became known as Campbell’s. The business has now passed through four generations of family, finally being looked after by James, Catriona and Miriam Campbell (three siblings) until 2015.
The road ahead?
Q: What is your USP?
History, heritage, provenance, unique, quirky, individual taste, made in the UK, specialists in a niche area, discreet approach, not aggressively marketed.
Q: Any famous customers frequent the store?
We have the Royal Warrant to HM The Queen for our tailoring services. Many a famous face frequents our store, but I think what they love about our store is it is discreet, so they like to remain anonymous. We often open late specifically for certain customers, a bit like Harrods!
Q: What’s your vision for the future of the business?
By May we will have built a new state of the art tailoring workshop to the rear of the existing site. This will enable us to gradually expand our tailoring services and guarantee the future of our skilled team. Offices will then be created upstairs, along with a photography room so that we can start to build our online business. These changes will allow more space on the ground floor and we will expand our retail offering by a third using space that’s currently used by tailoring. Thereafter, build our online sales and increase our brand awareness.
Q: Any fashion tips for the season ahead?
Sustainability. Care about where your products are made and where they are sourced from. Quality matters. Where possible we make sure that we buy UK made, and we try where possible to buy from small independent family run businesses like ourselves.
Q: Any big dreams for the business?
A Royal Warrant to HRH Prince of Wales.
A showroom on Savile Row and in Edinburgh.
A shop in Marylebone.
Dreams cost nothing, think big!
Food & Drink
Q: Favourite place to eat in the Highlands?
When we have friends to stay we like to go to Sutor Creek in Cromarty for a great pizza and seafood. We have recently discovered IV10 in Rosemarkie which is equally great. Further afield we regularly make a trip up to Kylesku for the langoustine. When visiting Nicola’s parents who live in Ardgay, we love to go for a VeniMoo burger at Mac & Wild. The location and setting is perfect.
Q: Any favourite local foods?
For John it’s one word – Grouse!
For Nic it’s local game – you just can’t beat it.
Q: Do you have a top recipe you could share?
Breast a pheasant and cut into small strips/goujons, being careful to remove any sinew and shot.
Batter the goujons in seasoned flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs.
The gently fry in a small pan of oil. We serve these with a cranberry and port reduction or just ketchup (!) if we are being a little lazy.
With thanks to Nicola & John. For any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact them on the below. Or even better, drop in next time you’re cruising around the Highlands.