Porrelli’s have been making award-winning ice cream since 1925. Family owned and run the business now serves over 60 delicious flavours. Paul Andrews met the third and fourth generation in the family business, Enzo Durante, his wife Ines and daughter Serena.
It was back in 1925 that Gerardo Porrelli emigrated from San Biagio in Italy to Scotland. Along with his family Gerardo settled in Paisley and to this day the family are still Paisley based, fully integrated into the local community. Gerardo began to produce delicious ice cream using traditional Italian recipes and was also operating ice cream vans servicing the housing estates in Paisley and surrounding areas.
The next phase of the business was to start wholesaling and delivering ice cream, sorbets and frozen desserts to the catering market, restaurants and cafés. “It has been a wonderful journey,” said Enzo, “and we are all extremely proud of what we have achieved so far and excited for what the future has in store.”
“Although much has changed in the world since production began all those years ago, we still make luxury ice cream using our own original recipe the way we did when the business started with little having deviated from the original recipe over the years, it is with pride that I can say that we still make one of Scotland’s favourite ice creams today,” he adds.
Enzo is the grandson of Gerardo and has worked in the business since 1978 when he started learning the business from the ground up. He worked in stores, production, had a period as a multi-drop driver, then settled into production and eventually took up the role of Production Manager then Operations Director in 1989. His wife Ines joined Porrelli’s in 1991 in an administration role before becoming Finance Director and their daughter Serena became marketing manager in 2010 ensuring that this remains very much a family business.
There is a real passion for ice cream within the family and a pride in what they do, constantly driving innovation and investment to ensure that quality products are made from the best locally sourced ingredients with a production team that are constantly developing new and exciting flavours and making sure that the quality and consistency remains exceptional.
Over time the business out-grew the original production facility which led after much deliberation to build a new custom built factory in 2008. As Enzo explains, “We had a number of choices such as leaving the Paisley site and moving to a new facility or developing the existing factory to enable us to expand production and move the business forward. We decided that what began in Paisley should remain in Paisley and decided to invest in the existing site and build a new state-of-the-art ice cream factory.”
This resulted in a new factory, upgraded equipment and processes and a production capacity in excess of 6,000 litres of their delicious ice cream every day. That equates to over 1.4 million litres of ice cream a year!
As Enzo explains, “We also have the capacity as a niche manufacturer to custom blend any flavour of ice cream requested and can make small batches too which is a real differentiator for us in the market. We also have an innovative production team who come up with new flavours all the time such as Nutty-Ella, Iron Brew and Malty Teaser but the most popular flavours remain Traditional Double Cream Vanilla and everyone’s favourite, Scottish Tablet ice cream”
The business has come a long way since Enzo joined the firm in 1978 and he reflects fondly on the early days too as the third generation now at the helm. “I was fortunate to be introduced to the business at a young age which allowed me to learn and adopt the strong family values from my uncle and family involved at that time.”
“As an SME the team are really important to the business and we have a core of staff that have been with us for many years who live and breathe Porrelli’s just like we do as a family,” explains Enzo adding that “they care about the products and know what needs to be done even before being asked to do it!”
Porrelli’s have a diverse and loyal customer base from independent restaurants, hotels, cafés, bars, ice cream parlours and wholesalers and also supply a retail range to Asda and Sainsbury’s in Scotland. They have a fleet of refrigerated vehicles that allows them to make deliveries to over 450 direct accounts within a 70 mile radius of their base.
Quality and provenance are important and a lot of the ingredients are locally sourced while some pastes and inclusions are still sourced from Italy, retaining the historical family links to the country that Gerardo left all those years ago.
This is a family business success story built on an entrepreneurial vision, unique recipes and hard work, underpinned by a strong ethos and family values. Decisions are evaluated and the long term plan considered. As Enzo explains, “I have always been cautious and fairly old school not to overstretch the business and only spend what you can afford without putting the business under too much financial pressure. The investment was a big step for the family and the business but it has allowed the business to move forward and build for the future.”
The next generation is already actively involved in the business and Serena although responsible for the marketing of Porrelli’s is bringing her own stamp to the business with a degree of diversification too. Along with her husband, the family have created a new consumer experience in Glasgow, Loop and Scoop, where there are opportunities to enjoy churros and ice cream, Porrelli’s of course!
As Serena adds, “Loop & Scoop is the UK’s first ice cream & churros bar. A love of ice cream, great coffee and the desire to create something a little different for Glasgow inspired us to develop the concept with a unique menu includes a range of handmade ice cream and churros produced onsite using the highest quality ingredients.”
As for the ice cream, it really is delicious, full of flavour and velvety smooth. As Enzo concludes, “Our ice cream is a reflection of who we are as a family firm. It needs to be honest, consistent and of a quality that reflects our desire and drive to produce an exceptional product. Being a good employer is also important to us as a business and our staff are truly integral in all that we do. For us as a family firm, quality is the name of the game.”
It is true to say that generations of Paisley families have indulged in Porrelli’s ice cream and with the next generation already involved, the future looks bright although they are still playing it cool!