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Moorbrook Textiles seeks buyer for Robert Noble and Replin Fabrics

Scottish textile group Moorbrook Textiles is seeking a buyer for two of its loss-making textile brands Robert Noble and Replin Fabrics and has warned of the possible closure of its March Street Mills site in Peebles.

A 30-day consultation process for the mill’s 87 employees started today.

Moorbrook’s management team said they are actively seeking a buyer, which could provide a better strategic fit for the business and could widen its product and services, after a targeted sales approach has so far been unsuccessful. A spokesman would not disclose the amount sought for the business.

Robert Noble supplies high quality woven fabrics to fashion brands and retailers and can trace its origins back to 1666, while Replin Fabrics was established in 1945 and produces fabrics for the automotive and transportation industries.

Moorbrook acquired both brands in the 1990s and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Swedish family-owned business Lindéngruppen, which owns other firms in the art supplies, coatings, metal powders and security glass industries.

Moorbrook also owns the Scottish cashmere firms Alex Begg and Begg & Co, based in Ayrshire, which are unaffected by the sale.

The company said it has made significant investment in the Peebles mill over the past 10 years, but the seasonal and volatile nature of the business and changes in global demand have prevented March Street Mills from achieving sustainable positive financial results.

Ian Laird, managing director of Moorbrook Textiles, said: “Replin Fabrics and Robert Noble have strong global reputations for delivering high quality products to worldwide customers. In recent months we have secured a number of significant global contracts. Our focus remains on supporting these activities and continuing to deliver the best possible service for our customers.

“However, it is no secret that the global textiles sector has experienced challenges and consolidation. We have worked hard to deliver a strong sales pipeline and we have invested to strengthen the businesses. Both are stronger today than they were 10 years ago.

“Despite this, continuing losses mean that if a buyer or alternative solution cannot be found, production at the mill will cease this year.”

He added: “We fully acknowledge the impact the potential closure of our Peebles mill would have on the local community and are working closely with all employees, customers, suppliers and government agencies to minimise this impact. It remains our earnest hope that a buyer can be found who can offer a better strategic fit for the excellent products and hardworking workforce at March Street Mills.”

If a buyer is not found, some Peebles staff may be offered the opportunity to relocate to suitable positions in the Ayr business, although the management recognise that this will not be appropriate for all employees.

In 2014, Moorbrook Textiles (including Alex Begg and Begg & Co) made sales of SEK 187m (£14.3m). Profits have not been disclosed.

@Tara_Hounslea

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