MOST of the 16 employees at Drove Weaving in Langholm are at risk of redundancy, it has been revealed.
Lochcarron of Scotland has announced that Drove Weaving will enter into a period of consultation to consider the cessation of all production at the mill.
The proposal under consideration means most of the staff are at risk should the business be unable to find a solution to the current situation.
Trading has become increasingly difficult and the current global situation relating to coronavirus has only exacerbated this.
In an attempt to avoid compulsory redundancies the management is willing to consider any viable options which may help.
Drove Weaving is a division of Lochcarron and manufacturers for the Selkirk company.
It also undertakes commission weaving for a number of UK textile brands.
Some have their own manufacturing base and use Drove for specialist projects or when they need increased capacity. Others are manufacturers without looms.
A spokesman for Lochcarron said: “The commission work has been reducing steadily over time and in the current circumstances there are indications that it is unlikely to recover for some considerable time.
“Lochcarron has been able to support weaving at Drove through a range of qualities, woven specifically there and by sharing other work which would normally have been undertaken in our Selkirk mill.
“Recent investment in new machinery in Selkirk has helped increase capacity to manage what had been growing demand but, with the global downturn, it is experiencing a dramatic reduction in demand and, as a consequence, has excess capacity.
“We don’t see a return to anything like sufficient work to maintain Drove Weaving either from Lochcarron or external customers for some considerable time.
“We are taking up schemes such as furloughing and applying for government loans for the whole business.
“Drove has provided weaving for many companies for more than four decades and it is regrettable that circumstances beyond anyone’s control have led to this situation.
“The management team will work with both staff and interested parties should any other viable solutions become apparent.”
Robbie Trussler and his wife, Sheila, founded the company in Drove Road more than four decades ago and Robbie still manages it.
He said: “When Lochcarron took us over about 18 years ago, it was our main customer.
“We had hit bad times and Lochcarron said it would like to take us on because it wanted to expand its business into fashion items and we had a skilled workforce.”
He said the current downturn happened very quickly, adding: “There will be staff to be made redundant whatever happens but, numbers-wise, I wouldn’t like to say how many.
“There is work there but customers started cancelling within the past few weeks.
“They didn’t want finished cloth and the factories they were working with in France and Italy were all shut. Everything just stopped.
“We had not been as busy but we were always up to our budget. Lochcarron has a big production unit and the work was not there to help us.
“Our customers include tailors in London and we have a company in Ireland and we do all the weaving for him but he’s not getting any tourists.”
Drove also weaves swatches for fashion designers to take to customers at the big shows in France and Italy and all over the world but everything has been cancelled.
Robbie said: “We’ve been involved with a fair few companies, including Kynoch (the design division of Reid & Taylor), so there will be more than just us suffering.”
He added: “It’s not the way I wanted to go out of textiles; one of the thoughts was to mothball the business. It’s not as though the workers are going get work elsewhere, sadly.
“Everyone is in the same boat. We hope to hang on in there and have a semblance of a company at the end of it all but nothing will be the same as it has been.
“Even if we’re resurrected in some fashion, it will not be in the same state. But I’m open to carrying on.”
In a joint-statement Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and MSP Oliver Mundell said: “This news comes at the worst possible time for the individuals and families concerned and is a further blow to Langholm.
“Sadly, the decision is a reflection of the difficulties in the textile industry which has been badly hit by a drop in demand as a result of COVID-19 and there seems little prospect of keeping Drove Weaving operating in its current form at this time.
“There is no doubt this makes the ongoing economic regeneration work in the town even more important and we stand ready to support those efforts in any way we can and would encourage any employees to get in touch directly if they are looking for help or advice.”