1845 – 1873

James Brown opens a new Galashiels Provision Store in 1845. He later sold the print and newspaper business to John McQueen and John Russell in 1873.


The contract between McQueen & Russell expired five years after it had been formed with Mr Russell acquiring the business and high street premises and Mr McQueen buying a site in Channel Street, Galashiels where he built premises which he fitted out with a letterpress and lithographic print plant.

1886 – 1912

His son, John Stirling McQueen, had no great interest in the print industry and would rather have become a barrister. However he became an apprentice in 1886 and successfully applied himself to the business. With rifle shooting his hobby, he successfully built the market speciality of manufacturing targets, becoming a partner in 1902 and sole partner on the death of his father in 1912.


After originally going their separate ways, Mr Russell was not as successful in his own venture and 41 years later, the “goodwill” of his business was acquired by John McQueen & Son, along with two of their employees, Sandy McRae, a printer, and Maxwell M. Gray, a compositor. A few months later Max Gray was asked if he would join the management of the company.


James (Jimmy) Gray joined his father in McQueen in September 1932 and the first automatic print press, a Heidelberg Platen, was purchased in 1937. The principal speciality was the manufacture of targets for the Armed Forces and Rifle Clubs and during both wars this department overshadowed all other activities. James Gray recorded in his notes “During the Second World War, excluding veneer backing boards, John McQueen & Son Ltd had produced 166,930,919 targets. I guarantee that figure to be correct as I had to check my father’s additions”.

1945 – 1960

James Gray was appointed a Director in 1946. John Stirling McQueen died in 1954 and his daughter, Dotte McQueen, joined the company and was appointed to the Board and Maxwell M. Gray died in 1960.

1960 – 1974

In 1964, Michael M. Gray followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the company. Derek J. Gray joined his father and brother in McQueen two years later. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s there were huge technological changes within the Print Industry with a move from hot-metal typesetting to computer based photo-typesetting.


Dotte McQueen and the Gray family discussed the sale of her majority share-holding in John McQueen & Son Ltd and a buy-out arrangement was subsequently agreed with a new company, McQueen Printers Ltd being formed. This marked the end of three generations of McQueen family ownership, though Miss McQueen retained her interest in the new company’s development until her death in 1986.


In response to the tremendous interest in the personal computer, a new business was established, McQueen Systems Ltd, under the direction of Derek Gray. The first office outwith the Borders was opened in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. The first computer product McQueen sold was the Apple II, which along with a spreadsheet, Visicalc, proved to be very popular with businesses.


Sales revenues had now exceeded £1million for the first time and the company had 44 staff. In July of that year James Gray, who had been ill for some time, died aged sixty-four. Michael M. Gray was appointed Chairman and Joint Managing Director with Derek J. Gray

1985 – 1990

With increasing demand for quality colour print, a major investment was undertaken involving the purchase of a new state-of-the art machinery and a 3-acre green-field site development at Langlee in Galashiels with Allan Stewart MP, Ministry for Industry & Education opening the new facility in June 1985.

McQueen were appointed UK distributor for the new Aldus PageMaker product, which went on to become a world-wide bestseller as well as being appointed as the European Hub Distributor for Adobe Systems.

The rapid development also meant the Langlee premises were soon bursting at the seams resulting in a move to a larger (and still current) site located at Nether Road in Galashiels. By 1988 sales sat at just over £7million with a staff of 94.

1990 – 1994

The company’s first international presence was established in September 1991 with McQueen Inc. in the United States of America.

The Langlee Print site was extended in 1991 to accommodate additional print presses and by late 1991, the Netherdale site involved in software manufacturing was also extended with an additional high level storage unit, officially opened on 27th March 1992 by Tom Farmer C.B.E.

In 1992, McQueen extended their range of services by establishing McQueen Direct Ltd, a Contact Centre which offered direct sales and marketing solutions on a pan-European basis from operations located in Calder House, Edinburgh. McQueen also established fulfilment centres in Holland, France, Sweden and Ireland with an additional contact centre in Manilla.

1995 – 1997

The 150th year celebrations saw a Royal visit on the 3rd July 1995 by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to the Netherdale facility. During the visit, H.R.H. Prince Charles spent time with staff and viewed examples of print work as well as seeing samples of his own watercolour paintings being manipulated in the latest computer image editing software, Photoshop, a software package assembled and fulfilled by McQueen for Adobe Systems.

With sales revenues at £30million, McQueen Group were replicating over 1 million disks per month, manufacturing over 3.5million software packages per annum and printing over 3million high quality technical manuals each year. The Customer Services & Technical Support call centre operation at Calder House, Edinburgh had also expanded to a multi-lingual staff of 115 handling over 70,000 calls each month from all around Europe.

Target Division, based in Galashiels, shipped 20million targets to customers throughout the world, and today continues to provide high quality products manufactured to the precision levels as required in the shooting industry.


McQueen is acquired by SYKES…John H. Sykes founded SYKES Enterprises, Inc. in 1977 as a small engineering firm with 3 employees based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Setting out on a new course in 1992, SYKES acquired Jones Technologies, Inc. Of Colorado which entered them into the arena of inbound customer support. The corporate office subsequently moved to Tampa, Florida in 1993 with SYKES going public in 1996 as they began trading on NASDAQ, also expanding their International presence following acquisitions of Datasvar in Sweden; Telcare in Germany and McQueen based here in the UK.


SYKES inducted into the Software Support Professional Association (SSPA) Hall of Fame.


SYKES sign a multi-year deal with Procter & Gamble to support their Global Consumer Relations business including the consolidation of Western European Fulfilment from 18 different vendors down to 2. SYKES expands global footprint to El Salvador.


Charles (Chuck) Sykes appointed to President & CEO.


SYKES acquire Argentina based Apex America and now has more than 26,000 employees at year-end.


SYKES expands with new locations in Kentucky, South Carolina and Arkansas in the US as well as establishing operations in Brazil, Costa Rica & Denmark


Two new centres are opened in Norway. SYKES undertakes the most significant acquisition of its 33 year history with ICT Group, Inc.

SYKES has 43,000+ employees based in more than 80 locations throughout 24 countries worldwide.


SYKES in Galashiels ships over 50million Adobe products.


SYKES opens a new Contact Centre in Galashiels.