Duncan and Vicki McConchie

Laggan Outdoor & GG’s Yard, Dumfries and Galloway

For Duncan and his wife Vicki, the obvious next step for the McConchie brother’s business was to place the exceptional sea views and surrounding landscape at the centre of their diversification, initially inspired by the local tourism industry.

While kicking off with activity centre Laggan Outdoor – which at one point included Europe’s longest zip wire line – the business has ramped up its focus on GG’s Yard, a top-of-the-range wedding, conference and events venue.

The influx of events at the 1,000-acre site, including its sea-view snug accommodation and basecamp café, meant Duncan was able to secure the year-round income that the activity centre was lacking through the winter months.

Duncan says: “From the original outdoor activity centre, each subsequent diversification has happened as a result of identifying and meeting a need in the market.

“The background and history behind the businesses is woven through the fabric of everything we do.”

95 per cent of revenue comes from weddings, which has helped boost total occupancy rates to 90 per cent.

While Duncan’s brother runs sheep on the farm, challenges in using his own produce for events came with many hurdles, but the four businesses have instead allowed Duncan to work in support of, or in conjunction with, local suppliers.

It has also prompted a range of jobs for students and young people in the area, attracting mostly 14-17-year-olds who in return for a three-year contract are offered training on the job.

“The most important characteristic in a member of staff has always been the right attitude,” says Duncan. “We learned from the very start if you employ people who have a can-do attitude, who are positive, personable and customer-focussed, everything else can be learned.

“We are proud and vocal champions of the area; its outstanding beauty, its resources and its offering.”