Harris Tweed Hebrides ended the year with orders up by 25 per cent over the previous 12 months, creating what has been described as a “very strong platform for 2014”.
The Shawbost-based company, which was named UK Textile Company of the Year in 2013 as well as Scotland’s Fashion Ambassador of the Year, accounts for around 90 per cent of Harris Tweed production.
Chief executive Ian Angus MacKenzie, said: “We saw a big surge in orders late in the year which means that we now have a very strong platform for 2014 . We start from a better position than last year, which was itself pretty good.
“In the past, the ordering season did not really begin until into the New Year but we have managed to get the message across that ordering early is the best way of ensuring that demand can be met.
“It is good news for the weavers as we are now able to provide them with year-round work. You never know what lies ahead, of course, but the current order book means that the early months of 2014 are going to be extremely busy.”
Meanwhile the company will continue its international marketing campaign with a presence at two major events in January.
Chairman Brian Wilson and creative director Mark Hogarth are attending Pitti Uomo, the world’s major menswear show, in Florence this week while marketing director, Margaret MacLeod, is heading for Paris later in the month for Maison et Objet, the leading interiors and accessories show.
Mr Wilson, a former UK Trade Minister, said: “It is essential to keep opening up new markets and to work with existing clients, many of whom attend Pitti Uomo from all over the world.
“It is the first indicator of how they plan to use Harris Tweed in the year ahead, and an opportunity to discuss how we might work with them.
“Japan is still our major market but the exchange rate has moved against us there. It does not seem to be having much impact at present but it is a reminder of why we always need to seek diversification of both markets and sectors for our product”.
He said that interiors had been “a major growth area last year” and there were strong indications that this would continue into 2014.
Harris Tweed Hebrides recently announced a £1 million investment programme including the acquisition of ten double-width looms which are being leased to weavers in order to bring new recruits into the industry.