Shawbost mill to re-open through Harris Tweed Hebrides

The Harris Tweed industry was given a major boost today (Thursday) with the announcement that the mill in Shawbost would be re-opened by a new Scottish-owned company, Harris Tweed Hebrides.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar expressed its support for the latest developments.

Archie Campbell, Chairman of Sustainable Development, stated: "I am delighted that Shawbost mill will once again soon be producing Harris Tweed."

Vice-Convener Angus Campbell said: "The Comhairle looks forward to playing its part in helping to revive the industry and trusst that partners will also do so. It will be essential that over the next period there is a concerted effort to consolidate the marketing of the industry. We need to work together to ensure Harris Tweed is marketed as a high quality brand throughout the world. To that end the Comhairle will shortly call a meeting to bring together the local industry, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) to ensure a cohesive, positive, forward looking approach."

Harris Tweed Hebrides intends to supply customers at the top end of the fashion market who might otherwise have been lost to the industry.

The main shareholder in the new company is Ian Taylor, a Scottish businessman who has spent the last 30 years in the oil industry and has a home on the west coast.

He said: "As a long-standing admirer of Harris Tweed, I see this as a tremendously exciting opportunity to promote it as one of the world's great fabrics. I believe that Harris Tweed Hebrides can bring a new approach to a classic industry".

The new company's chief executive is Ian Angus MacKenzie who, for the past 14 years has been chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority..

Another vastly experienced figure in the industry, Rae Mackenzie, becomes sales director of Harris Tweed Hebrides.

Mr Mackenzie said that customers around the world had responded with 'enormous relief and enthusiasm' to the news that supplies of Harris Tweed, bearing the Orb trade mark, would be available again from the Shawbost mill, which has always enjoyed a particularly high reputation within the industry.

Former Government Minister, Brian Wilson – a long-time supporter of the industry – is the non-executive chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides.

He said: "Everyone involved in the day-to-day operation of the company is steeped in the industry. We have a superb local team and there is huge enthusiasm for what Harris Tweed Hebrides can achieve, both for the industry and for the Western Isles economy."

The other non-executive directors of the new company are Ian Taylor and Alasdair Morrison, the former MSP for the Western Isles, who lives in Lewis. The company will adopt from the outset a bilingual business policy; its Gaelic name is Cl" M"r Innse Gall.