Monday, 2 March 2009
Mill closed down
The former Kenneth Mackenzie's Harris Tweed mill in Stornoway has been mothballed, and all its staff laid off. Production has ceased until further notice, provisionally for a year, but possibly much longer. This morning, staff attended a meeting and were told of the closure as of Wednesday 4 March. For the first time in many decades, no Harris Tweed will be produced in Stornoway.
The closure results from policies, adopted by the mill's current owner Brian Haggas of Keighley in West Yorkshire. He only wishes to produce tweed for his line of men's jackets, and he has 70,000 jackets lying in storage which are very slow to sell. As the tweed is ringfenced for Mr Haggas's jackets and no other product, production has been halted.
Although there appears to be demand for tweed, it will most certainly not be met by the Stornoway mill. The mills in Shawbost and Carloway (geographically speaking: Gearrannan) are still producing. Small producers, e.g. in South Harris, are also still making tweed.
It should be born in mind that Harris Tweed is a trademark, which can only be applied to tweed for which the wool has been spun, milled and handwoven from yarn, all in the Outer Hebrides.