THEY are the sweetie makers who know everything about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Staff at the factory which has been producing Edinburgh Rock since 1880 are celebrating after an entrepreneur from the Capital stepped in to save them from having to leave.
The 12-strong workforce at Ross’s of Edinburgh feared the worst when it emerged earlier this year that former chairman Graham Ross – great grandson of company-founder James Ross – had agreed a deal to sell the Loanhead-based facility after failing to convince his family to take over.
Mr Ross, who was preparing for retirement, said he hoped a buyer would come forward to snap up the brand name – but fears grew that a sale could see it move away from the Lothians for good.
Now businessman James Anderson has secured Edinburgh Rock’s future on home turf by buying the factory and keeping staff in their jobs.
Mr Anderson, who grew up in Murrayfield, said he was inspired because of the sweet’s historic links with his native city.
He said: “It’s an iconic brand and it would be a shame to just let it go. It was really just Graham’s age that led to him making the decision to retire and sell up – [the decision to buy] was about keeping the business going.”
Ross’s has operated in the Lothians for 135 years and its factory is the only one in the country currently making sticks of Edinburgh Rock.
Classic treats such as pan drops, soor plooms and rhubarb rock are among the firm’s other products.
Mr Anderson, who has a range of business interests across the Capital, said his immediate focus would be on consolidation.
“We would like to expand the product range and promote the business,” he said. “It’s a confectionery brand so we’d stick to a confectionery range but just increasing it slightly.
“All we’re doing is getting production back up and just fulfilling orders that are outstanding.
“It’s a very proud moment. This is a very well established company [and] it’s good that the company has been given an opportunity to continue.”
He added: “We’re looking to maintain the business as it was. We’re not looking to invest or hire immediately – we’re going to continue as is at the moment.”
Political figures have welcomed news that jobs and manufacturing activity generated by the firm will stay in the Lothians.
Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, said: “Obviously, I welcome anything that’s going to keep employment in the area.
“I did read about the demise of the original company, if you like, and it was quite sad because it’s been iconic for so many years – but I’m absolutely delighted that someone has stepped in to help it continue.
“I’m pleased for the people that are continuing in employment and that this iconic brand is continuing. Every job is a prisoner these days, in that you grab it, hold on to it and do not let it go.
“For Loanhead and wider Midlothian, this is a good thing.”