The noughties to the present day
After the floods of 2000 damaged over 1 million poppies, there was a major effort to make up the shortfall. Thankfully the Factory soon got back to its normal rate of production, with the workforce hand-assembling poppies, wreaths and other Remembrance items. It continued to attract visitors from organisations, schools, politicians and even royalty, with a visit from HRH The Duke of York in 2007.
In the same year Major Johan Larsen, formerly of the King’s Own Scottish Borders, retired after 14 years in post. He was succeeded by Major Charlie Pelling from the Royal Tank Regiment. Making the Factory’s operations more responsive and up-to-date was a key aim of the new manager and a website was introduced. This has recently been redesigned to keep up with demand and now it has an online shop which enables customers to purchase wreaths and other merchandise from anywhere in the world.
Since 2006 the Factory has been developing a programme of school visits in the month leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Primary 7 classes are treated to a presentation which gives visiting children a detailed account of the fascinating history of the Factory before they take a tour of the shop floor and are given the opportunity to make poppies themselves. This has been highly successful with 1,500 school pupils visiting annually.
In 2008 the printing workshop closed and in 2014 the framing business shut its doors. Both had been losing money for some time and their closure enabled the Factory to focus on its core activities of poppy and wreath making. The staff were employed elsewhere in the Factory.
In 2008 Captain Dick Smith RN retired as Chairman and was succeeded by Professor Sandy Davison.
In 2011 the Factory’s owner, Poppyscotland, merged with The Royal British Legion (TRBL), which means that the Factory is now a member of the TRBL group of charities.
The Factory continues to go from strength to strength, particularly in relation to wreath sales which have grown every year for the last four years. Additional administrative staff have been employed and, to replace the paper-based wreath processing system, a bespoke IT system was designed and put in place by former director Allan Davidson. Equipment has been overhauled to enable the Factory to operate more efficiently and meet future demand. However, the faithful and reliable 1926 machine that is used to cut the silk petals for the wreaths is still going strong. Gerolama, Countess Haig, remains the Factory’s much-loved patron.
The Factory is now active on Facebook and is steadily attracting more followers, with daily posts providing insight into the varied activities and life stories of the workforce. With 41 veterans employed, the Factory remains a happy and productive workplace. It is extremely proud of the holistic service it provides and of the strong relationships that have been developed with other service providers.
Currently the Factory produces 5 million poppies and 10,000 wreaths annually. 2014 marks the start of the First World War centenary commemorations and the Factory is preparing for an influx of wreath orders and requests for other Remembrance items over the next four years. This is an important and poignant period for the Factory. It was founded in 1926 to provide employment for those disabled by the First World War and that tradition and good work continues to this day.