Bakers Journal

Future-proof Old World Shortbread

November 19, 2020
By Bakers Journal

Mary Macleod’s Traditional Scottish Shortbread Cookies thrives online

The “black and white” of business has changed since the pandemic. Classic flavours like chocolate chip shortbread remains a constant during and after holiday giving.

Mary Macleod’s Shortbread shop moved online in 2018, and relocated into an industrial bakery facility, yet kept its homey, cottage feel. Bakers Journal had a chat with the owner and CCO (Chief Cookie Officer) Sharon Grewal-Macleod, the late Mary Macleod’s daughter-in-law to discuss how the environment has changed for bakers. Moving into a more digital space didn’t worry the company. They applied to Export Canada for a grant to help them expand across the border as well expanding on their virtual sales.

“We had started making our push into the United States this past year. We really wanted to build our website for B2B and B2C in the U.S. market.” Grewal-Macleod added,“When the credit crisis hit back in 2008-09, we actually did much better, because people were giving food gifts and comfort gifts versus lavish dinners and expensive bottles of wine,” she reflected. “But, it could also be that people aren’t going to gift ‘things’. They might be gifting to charities or to frontline workers.” She adds that though Christmas sales projections are uncertain during the COVID crisis, certain sales remain steady. “We did have a lot of customers who were gift-giving to their staff members at times when they wouldn’t have otherwise done so. We had a lot of customers stocking their pantries with our gluten-free shortbread, in particular. So that’s something that we saw a spike in during the pandemic.”

Once the lockdown began, the company shifted its plans. “I think it was three days a week, when we just had meetings to go through everything, from looking at our benefits program to onboarding a few new staff members. It then became a question of what to do in this context, maybe doing a workshop program on reducing hours, since we had some staff who were afraid to leave the house and didn’t want to come to work. I certainly didn’t want to force anyone to come and not feel safe as they rightfully should.” By anticipating their customers’ needs, Mary Macleod’s Shortbread is creating a new client base through imaginative marketing techniques.

“We’re really trying to push the message out there to that we’re still operating. We can send gifts to your clients’ houses,” offers Grewal-Macleod. “We just started on individually wrapped cookies as a new packaging option, because you don’t necessarily want to send a big cookie jar to an office for sharing. As such, we can accommodate by individually wrapping them, if necessary.”


Web-based transactions are driving the company’s business, using large, bright visuals to draw in potential and returning clients.

Despite the pandemic, the company is expanding, recently started selling their new boxes at Gelson’s in San Diego, with plans to move into other U.S. cities. However, there are no plans to increase their line of flavours. “We want to take the shortbread business to the next level and really get this delicious cookie out to more people. That’s why we’re expanding to come up with a lot of different recipes. I really just want to do more of less, focusing on our core flavours and to get them out to more people, because it’s such a delicious cookie.”

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