Father and Son reminisce over 40 years spent at Burghley Horse Trials

Scotts of Thrapston has been exhibiting at Burghley Horse Trials for around 40 years. The family run business has many wonderful memories to share through the three generations.

Burghley Horse Trials has always been the company’s chance to show off their latest innovations. Each year the team design and create a purpose built show unit to convey the quality of a Scotts stable in a small space.

This particular year Scotts was planning a real showstopper for its centenary year, celebrating 100 years of business.

We interviewed James Scott, Managing Director, and his father David Scott, Chairman, as they reminisce about Burghley over years gone by.

HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN TO BURGHLEY HORSE TRIALS?

James Scott: I first went in 1977 as an 8 month old, since then I have only missed two. Once in 2000 when I went travelling and this year due to Covid-19.

David Scott: We were at Burghley from the early days back in the 60s. I first attended with my parents, Douglas Scott being the Chairman at the time. Then my three children all accompanied me to the event as they were growing up. In recent years, I have enjoyed entertaining my grandchildren at the show.

WHAT MAKES BURGHLEY SUCH A SPECIAL SHOW?

James Scott: Everybody gathering at Burghley seems to understand an unwritten rule of respecting the environment. People are there to purchase the beautiful products and enjoy the wonderful food available. Visitors can almost guarantee whatever they buy is great quality which only adds to the experience.

It’s also the only place you are guaranteed to see the same faces year after year…after year. We get to see families grow, it’s a wonderful experience.

David Scott: Looking back to the early years, there was huge camaraderie between the stand holders. There was always a terrific buzz between us, and we felt very proud to be invited to have a stand at the show, as we still do. As a result, all the tradestands put in huge efforts to make their stands more exciting and visual.

There used to be a competition for the best tradestand at the show, I am proud to say that we won it on many occasions. I still have the plaques adorning my summerhouse at home!

WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR SCOTTS TO ATTEND THE EVENT?

James Scott: We are part of the ‘furniture’, people meet at the Scotts stand! But, of course, there is an element of association that helps us deliver our message of quality and service that only attending can give you. It’s the very best marketing message and has brought us great commercial success.

David Scott: At the beginning of each show season, there is always a deep breath as we have another year of shows to start and get through. However, as Burghley is at the end of our normal show season it gives us the opportunity to do something different on the stand which comes about from contacts we have made at other shows, including Badminton Horse Trials and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This gives us an opportunity to offer a different and interesting look to our stand and is a great finale for our show season each year.

Above all, it is our ‘local’ show so it presents a great opportunity to meet many past, present and future customers, as well as catching up with family and friends in a fantastic setting.

WHAT ARE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF BEING AT BURGHLEY?

James Scott: As a child I loved having free run of the show site. There used to be a Joke Shop who gave us hours of fun! Their stand was our first port of call, although sadly they don’t exhibit any more.

David Scott: Trade stands were very conscious of structuring their displays to meet the standards of Bill Henson, the preceding Event Director. He was very particular on what could and couldn’t be done and he needed to be satisfied!

I have enjoyed offering hospitality at Burghley, as an acknowledgment for past business and business relationships, as well as encouraging discussions for future business. We have had such a variety of visitors to the stand, including Lady Victoria Leatham and members of her family.

WHAT HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, SINCE YOU STARTED GOING TO THE EVENT?

James Scott: Just how busy it has become. As with all commercial success they have had to adapt. The increase in some of the bigger brands could be classified as disappointing yet they still manage to keep a strong element of the more independent retailers.

David Scott: Burghley has maintained the same distinction and quality over the years – not just with the merchandise on offer but also the variety of tradestands and the people that attend. It is viewed as a day out to spend money and enjoy the unique retail experience offered, incidental to the actual equestrian side!

WHAT HAVE YOU MISSED THIS YEAR ABOUT NOT GOING TO BURGHLEY?

James Scott: Not seeing friends and the massive disappointment of not promoting our 100 years, not to mention the commercial element of not attending. We recognise how much harder it is to generate business without Burghley to support us.

David Scott: Without Burghley we have a big hole in our marketing calendar. We have had to look at alternative ways of doing business and, of course, there will be a shift in emphasis although Burghley has always got it right. We are now looking at returning in 2021 to celebrate the company’s centenary one year later than planned!

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