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Dundee firm Ravensby Glass outlines plans for expansion

Ravensby Glass at West Pitkerro Industrial Estate.
Ravensby Glass at West Pitkerro Industrial Estate.

Over the years, big Dundee employer Ravensby Glass has become one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of insulated glass units.

The venture started out in 1985 as part of Tayside Windows and was acquired nine years later by Malcolm, Ogilvie & Co, whose roots in manufacturing in Dundee go back more than 170 years.

Ravensby now has more than 180 staff and two factories in Dundee’s West Pitkerro Industrial Estate – at Tom Johnston Road and Fowler Road.

Manager Harry Ogilvie, 28, said: “Investment into Ravensby is at the forefront of our priorities and has been extensive over the last 10 years.

“Over that time, the most significant was the purchase of the factory and installation of new glass machinery in 2014 at Tom Johnston Road at a cost of £6 million that created 75 new jobs.

Harry Ogilvie in the new Ravensby Glass warehouse on Tom Johnston Road in Dundee.

“In 2020, we added an extension and additional processing machinery at a cost of £2.5m.

“Next year, we are investing in new machinery at the Fowler Road factory at a cost of £3.5m.”

Harry said one of the reasons for Ravensby’s long-running success has been to put profits back into the business to support long-term growth.

Another factor is the number of experienced staff.

He explained: “Many of our operators, supervisors, engineers and office staff have been working for us for over 20 years.”

A Ravensby Glass employee transferring glass using suction cup machines.

Among Ravensby’s seven directors are chairman Nicholas Cunningham, managing director Gordon Dickson and Harry’s father Hamish Ogilvie.

Impact of Covid-19

The Fowler Road factory specialises in double and triple-glazed units for domestic customers for new window installations, doors and conservatories.

The Tom Johnston Road factory specialises in double and triple-glazed units for commercial customers for new buildings, flats and offices.

Workers at the Ravensby Glass factory.

Ravensby’s largest domestic-customer market is Scotland, while its commercial market is throughout the UK.

Hamish Ogilvie reported that the company was performing “very well” before the first lockdown in March 2020.

But – like many businesses throughout the UK – the impact of the pandemic meant Ravensby suffered a financial hit.

Accounts for the year ending October 2020 show that turnover slipped to £13.29m compared to £15.97m the year before.

It recorded pre-tax losses of £119,000 as against pre-tax profits of £165,000 previously.

Manager Harry Ogilvie and director Hamish Ogilvie.

Hamish said: “Covid led to a very sudden factories closure, with most employees on furlough – the first time we’ve ever had to close outside of holidays.

“Working from home is not an option for the majority of our employees. Strict Covid protocols were essential when we could reopen.

“We also had to work quickly to set up a work from home option for the office staff.

“We were fully operational again in the first quarter of this year.”

Ravensby Glass in the future

Hamish said the main markets it serves have been “very healthy” post-lockdowns.

He explained: “With new grants to improve home energy consumption, the domestic demand is continuing to rise.

“Construction demand and new commercial builds are back in growth, so we are in a very stable position.”

Glass storage at the Tom Johnston Road facility.

Hamish said the business continues to work closely with glass suppliers through testing and supporting new products.

He added: “The developing electric vehicle market will be reliant on high-specification, low-weight glass.

“This is a space we would absolutely like to develop within.”

Looking to the future, he said the firm’s targets are to develop the workforce and increase turnover by at least 50% in the next five years.

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