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Harris Tweed Hebrides extends once-derelict mill

Harris Tweed Hebrides, the main producer of Harris Tweed fabric in the UK, has today unveiled a £2.4m extension to its mill in Shawbost on the Isle of Lewis.

The extension includes a new dyeing plant and blending facility. As well as improving the production process, the company said it will create a better working environment for the mill’s 80 employees.

Ian MacKenzie, chief executive of Harris Tweed Hebrides, said: “This is a major investment in the future of the industry and a statement of confidence on the part of our company.

“A decade ago, Shawbost Mill was closed and derelict. We are very proud of what has been achieved since then and are confident that Harris Tweed can continue to be a significant force within the Hebridean economy for many years to come.”

Harris Tweed Hebrides was formed in 2007 by MacKenzie, who was previously CEO of the Harris Tweed Authority; Ian Taylor, who became principal investor; and Brian Wilson, former UK trade minister and resident of Lewis, who became chairman.

At the time, Shawbost Mill had been closed for almost two years.

Harris Tweed Hebrides has since worked to reposition Harris Tweed as a “fabric of fashion”. Around two-thirds of production is exported – the main market is Japan, followed by Germany, the US, Italy, France and South Korea. 

The Princess Royal opened the mill extension on 28 July in her capacity as president of the UK Fashion & Textiles Association, and called it “an investment for the next generation”.

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