The Carloway Mill on the Isle of Lewis has announced that after several months of discussion, a joint venture agreement has been concluded with one of the world’s largest, most innovative and progressive textile companies; the Shandong Ruyi Technological Group Ltd, whose HQ is in Jining in China.
The joint venture will result in Shandong Ruyi becoming a shareholder in The Carloway Mill.
The Carloway Mill spokesman Bruce Armitage said: “This is a very important announcement not only for The Carloway Mill, but for the Harris Tweed industry and the future economy of the Western Isles. Although the industry has developed and grown appreciably over the past 3 years, this new association with a global textile company is a first for Harris Tweed and will allow The Carloway Mill access to a potentially massive platform to expand its volumes and profitability.
Shandong Ruyi has a home market place of 1.3 billion people, but it also has a sales presence in 51 countries across the world. This and their extensive knowledge of the textiles industry, together with their ambitions for Harris Tweed make them a highly desirable partner”.
Bahman Mostaghimi, Managing Director of Shandong Ruyi UK added: “Ruyi’s HQ is located in Jining, Shandong Province near to Confucius’s home town. Ruyi under the leadership of Chairman Qiu Ya Fu, has been guided to become one of the most innovative and modern Fashion and Textile manufacturing companies in the world. Chairman Qiu believes in the quote from Confucius ‘Study the past if you would define the future’.
Harris Tweed has been a key player in the history of fashion and indeed you cannot separate Scotland from Harris Tweed or Harris Tweed from Scotland. We are very proud to be working with this heritage and introduce it to China.”
HTT’s Chairman Derek Reid and majority shareholder said: “After exhaustive discussion with our new partners over the past few months, I am delighted that are able to move forward together to grow our company and the Harris Tweed industry.
The Carloway Mill has made much progress in the past 12 months in developing the business. We have also experienced increased levels of sales over the historically quiet winter period and are looking forward to a successful full years trading. However, this partnership represents a step-change in our presence in the global luxury textiles market.
Over the next few months we will be embarking on an expansion programme at the mill by extending our buildings and installing new machinery. We will also be undertaking a modest recruitment campaign.
The future will continue to be full of challenges, but looks very exciting and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and management, our customers and suppliers for their support. I also wish to thank the public agencies - Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Western Isles Council for their help, support and guidance in developing the business and creating the circumstances for this partnership to come to fruition”.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE said: “Harris Tweed is a famous and unique fabric which is currently enjoying a resurgence in markets around the world. HIE recognises the importance of the Harris Tweed industry in the Outer Hebrides economy and its value to Scotland’s creative industries sector. This announcement from Harris Tweed Textiles is a vote of confidence from an international investor which will help strengthen the industry overall.”
Leader of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Chairman of the Harris Tweed Industry Forum, Cllr. Angus Campbell said: “This is a very significant day for the Harris Tweed Industry and the Outer Hebrides. The establishment of a joint venture between The Carloway Mill and Shandong Ruyi opens up huge market potential and we will actively work with the company to support its future expansion.”