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Business / Funding secured for Sandness woollen mill

Kirsten Nicolson (HIE), Garry Jamieson, Peter Jamieson at the mill back in 2017.

SHETLAND’s only commercial woollen mill has secured a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to increase capacity and productivity – with hopes that it could lead to the creation of more jobs.

Jamieson’s Spinning (Shetland) Ltd has received around £46,000 to buy and install a new yarn balling machine and label printer at its Sandness factory.

This will improve productivity and increase capacity on the hand knitting yarn line.

It is also expected to create more jobs in the long-term.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said that Jamieson’s has reported growing demand for their hand knitting yarns in recent years – demand that has accelerated considerably during the pandemic.

Previously two employees could operate one machine but with Covid restrictions this is no longer possible.

The new machine will enable the company to double its output of yarn packs and divert yarn from underutilised commercial production, which would otherwise be wasted.

The increase in capacity will also allow Jamieson’s to explore a new market opportunity for hand knitting yarn in China.

Head of business growth at HIE in Shetland Andrew Gear said: “At a time when businesses continue to face challenging operating and trading conditions, this is very welcome news from Jamieson’s.

“The firm has been working hard to adapt and continue their growth. We are very pleased to be able to support the company in this way.”

Peter Jamieson of Jamieson’s said: “Sales of our hand knitting yarns have been growing steadily for a good few years, lockdown accelerated demand to a point where our existing machinery struggled to cope.

“With HIE’s valuable assistance we have been able to invest in new machinery that will more than double our capacity for these types of yarn.

“This will allow turnover to bounce back quicker, safeguarding jobs and creating opportunities for the future.”

The business buys Shetland wool and completes all stages of production at the mill before turning it into Shetland yarn, in five different weights, in over 400 colours.