Gordon Smillie, one of the most prominent and influential operators in the Scottish potato industry in recent decades, has died at the age of 69.

Educated firstly at Balbeggie Primary School and Perth High School, he then went to Edinburgh University, gaining a BSc in agriculture in 1973.

He then joined the business established by his father James and mother, Enid, back in 1959 to produce and marketing seed and ware potatoes. By the mid-1970s, J and E Smillie (Growers) were growing approximately 700 acres of seed potatoes in Perthshire, Angus and Kincardineshire with stores and grading lines at Ruthvenfield, Perth, and at Letham Grange, Arbroath.

In addition, he took on the management, grading and marketing of approximately 400 acres of seed potatoes produced by the farmers’ group, Montrose Potatoes, at Fettercairn.

In 1984, along with the Doig family, Old Fargie; Ron MacArthur, Haggarts, at Muthill; and Marcel Guindi, from London, Mr Smillie established Caithness Potatoes (CPL), or Caledonia Potatoes as is today. CPL produced and marketed the varieties bred by Dr Jack Dunnett.

Through his work with CPL, Mr Smillie spent a season working in Eastern Europe as well as travelling extensively to other markets around the world. He also secured markets for CPL varieties with a major pre-packer in Scotland.

Latterly, due to ill health, he became less involved in the business allowing his commercial director, Alistair Melrose, to take over the reins. However, illness did not prevent him taking a five-week trip with his wife, Fiona, travelling around New Zealand stopping along the way to inspect potato fields.

His other interests included cars, motor sports, machinery, travelling and gardening.

Mr Smillie is survived by his wife, Fiona, his four children Rosalind (43), Lesley (41), Ian (39), Sandie (24) and two grandchildren, Anna (6) and Jack (3).