Keeping it in the Family - Mitchells Dairy

Family businesses hold a certain charm, and often become an ingrained and natural feature of the local areas in which they operate. Mitchell’s Dairy of Inverurie is a prime example of this.

Mitchells was founded in 1928 by Elijah Mitchell, the grandfather of Patrick, and great grandfather of Judy Mitchell, the current owner. When the family could not find work, they took the decision to bring work to themselves, setting up the company to create employment for them and their 6 grown up children. In 1928, they bought a small grocery shop and established a tearoom in the Family Front Room, where the tearoom is still

located now. Elijah Mitchell and his three sons purchased milk from local farmers and offered two milk rounds in Inverurie per day, seven days a week, partly out of requirement on account of there being no refrigeration at that time.

Over the following years, the business expanded, with farms being bought. The shop and tearoom also spread into the premises next door.  Mitchell’s soon became the first self service shop in Inverurie, where customers could pick and select their own items.

The third generation of Mitchells began working with Business Gateway and the Centre for Family Enterprise (whom they were introduced to via Business Gateway), with a view to succession planning . As a fourth generation Mitchell, Judy comments:

"Mitchells rearranged into 2 independent businesses: retail, taken on by my dad, and farming, taken on by his cousin. We have the grocers shop and tearoom in Inverurie where we still handbake oatcakes on the premises to my great granny's recipe."

Business Gateway Director, Andrew Burnett adds:

"Mitchells Dairy has certainly survived the test of time. They have developed a reputation for quality products and are also alert to new opportunities such as local collaboration. Innovation and creativity are characteristics that we recognise from many of our region’s most successful businesses. Aberdeenshire is full of businesses that are thinking more creatively of how to develop their products or service, and Business Gateway supports these through business advice, training courses, masterclasses and access to funding."

One of the other great advantages of a local based family business is the partnership that can be had with other local producers and retailers:

"We work in partnership with a number of local producers. Downies of Whitehills now have a fresh fish counter within our shop (local producers working together). In addition we work with Rizzas of Huntly who make and distribute our brand of Mitchells ice cream. The berries used in our ice cream come from Castleton Farm, Fordoun and Barra Berries, Oldmeldrum."

The business has received a number of recent accolades including: the Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2006, and the Taste of Grampian Independent Retailer of the Year 2013.

Mitchells was also one of the key businesses taking part in the July 2013 Inverurie 4U event, which promotes local independent retailers in the town. Mitchells hosted a guess the balloons in the window competition as well as hosting visitors within their shop and tearoom until 8pm.

For more information, visit

If you would like help with starting or growing your business, please get in touch now on 01224 289 700

You can also follow us on Social Media:

Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire
Business Gateway Tayside

Back to all blogs