Supplier marks golden jubilee

Sims Automatics still ahead of the game as it celebrates 50 years

Sims Automatics MD Scott McGillivray
Sims Automatics MD Scott McGillivray

IF you went into a pub 50 years ago, there’s a good chance you would have heard songs by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones playing on a jukebox from the new supplier on the scene.

1969 was the year in which the foundations for Sims Automatics were laid by Donald Simpson McGillivray, known to the trade as Don Sims, and his wife Betty.

Since then, the entertainment specialist has grown exponentially, and now provides everything from digital gaming machines and EPOS solutions to ice makers, and counts some 1800 Scottish hospitality businesses among its customers.

And it is still family owned, under the stewardship of Don and Betty’s son and daughter, Scott McGillivray and Alison Lambie (managing director and director, respectively), who have embarked on a sizable expansion programme in the last decade and now employ over 80 members of staff.

“We’ve tripled in size over the last ten years by acquisition and diversification,” said Scott.

“We’ve made five key acquisitions as well as moving into glass and ice products as well as EPOS and till systems. That’s provided us with our two main growth areas.”

Perhaps more pertinent for licensed outlets now than decades past, the company continues to supply operators with the kit they need to stay ahead of the competition and make day-to-day operations easier.

“Pubs have constantly got to be looking to offer customers something that’s a wee bit different,” said Alison.

“There’s been more new products in the last few years than ever.”

The supplier is aiming to show how far its product selection has grown in the last 50 years to operators and staff at ScotHot next month, with many of its key products set to be on show at stand 4560 at the event in Glasgow’s SEC on March 13 and 14.

And it’s not just product range Sims has increased over the years.

While retaining its headquarters in Glasgow, a determined effort has been made to take Sims across the country.

In 1989, the firm expanded its fleet of engineers with bases in the Highlands and Ayrshire; while, in recent years, it has opened a depot in Dunfermline as it looks to enhance operations in the east.

Scott said: “We can more or less cover all of Scotland, be it Aberdeen or the Borders, and with a quick response time. We are now a truly national company.”

Despite the growth of the company, good service remains at the heart of Sims Automatics.

“Customer service has always been key to everything we do; that’s what we’re known for,” said Alison.