One of West Lothian’s longest-standing businesses has been forced to relocate to more modern premises to make way for a multi-million pound development.
Oliphant’s Bakery, one of the oldest businesses in the region, has had to vacate its old premises at Whitecross and move to Abbot’s Road, Bankside, in Falkirk.
The move was a welcome one for current owner Alice Gibson who bought the business from Mr Oliphant more than a decade ago.
“We’re delighted,” she said. “We’re now in amongst the living. In the old premises, it was like a ghost town as all the businesses moved out.”
The Whitecross site is to be flattened and rebuilt to accommodate a mix of residential and business use.
No jobs have been lost in the move as all of the bakery’s 40-strong staff are happy to make the change.
Alice Gibson has taken advantage of the new situation to expand the business, adding a small retail shop at the bakery site.
“There are so many more businesses here that we saw an opportunity to offer fresh-baked bread, scones and cakes straight from the oven,” said Alice, who praised her staff for their loyalty and for helping make the move go smoothly. “I’m so proud of them,” she said.
“They finished up on Saturday at Whitecross and moved lock, stock and barrel to the new buildings and were ready for business as usual for the regular Sunday evening shift.
“We didn’t want to lose anyone in the move. We have a long-standing and loyal staff. Even Nessie - Nessie Henderson - she doesn’t work at the bakery but has worked in our big shop for more than 40 years.
“We’re also grateful for the help of LinlithgowMP Michael Connarty who managed to negotiate an extension of our deadline for vacating the Whitecross property so that we could make a seemless move without losing any operating shifts.”
Oliphant’s has been a household name in West Lothian for generations, dating back to 1856 when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
Despite all best efforts, however, business nearly came to a halt because of licensing red tape.
“It was touch and go,” said Alice. “We were still waiting for official approval to carry on the business at Abbot’s Road while we were moving in.
“It was late on the Sunday that we got the official go-ahead to start up the ovens. So, it was real last minute stuff but, thankfully, it worked out.”
Oliphant’s shops will continue trading as normal.
“None of the shops are closing,” added Alice. “And we’ll continue to create new recipes and old favourites.”