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News | 30th July 2020
 

Weaving company’s future in the balance

Management buy-out team seeks to progress talks with owner

 
 
 

TALKS over a management buy-out of Drove Weaving in Langholm have stalled, despite efforts to progress the sale with the current owner.

Lochcarron of Scotland, based in Selkirk, announced in March that the mill would enter into a period of consultation to consider ending all production at the mill.

The proposal meant most of the 16 employees were at risk should the business be unable to find a solution.

Trading had become increasingly difficult and the current global situation relating to coronavirus only exacerbated this.

Drove Weaving, which shut last Thursday, was a division of Lochcarron and manufactured for the company.

It also undertook commission weaving for a number of UK textile brands.

Some have their own manufacturing base and used Drove for specialist projects or when they needed increased capacity. Others were manufacturers without looms.

Robbie Trussler, who set up the company with his wife, Sheila, more than four decades ago, said last Friday that he was still waiting for a meeting with Lochcarron to be confirmed but expected it to be on Tuesday.

The meeting did not take place and the ball was now really in their court.

Robbie, who is putting together the buy-out with Stephen Tweddle and a third party, said: “We have a great relationship with our own customers; some of them I’ve had for more than 20 years.

“They were keen for us to keep going because they know what we can do for them.

“If we can keep hold of the machines because they’re of no use to anyone else but that’s not under our control.

“We’re able to give a service to a niche market. We don’t make miles of the stuff; we specialise. We finished our last order on the day we closed.”

He told the customers, who were most concerned, that if the mill closed, there was a possibility that Lochcarron could take on their orders.

Robbie told the E&L Advertiser yesterday that he’d learned one of the looms was removed on Tuesday and he felt disappointed about that.

He added: “As the closure approached, we decided to give it a go so I asked what it would take to take on the business.

Lochcarron’s lease runs out at the end of August but Robbie says he’s been in touch with the landlord who is happy for them to carry on and give them a bit of a rebate in the meantime.

He said: “Lochcarron has a month to do a deal or clear the building. It’s all up in the air.

“On Monday last week there was a negative response from Lochcarron to our proposal, perhaps because they saw us as competitors. They don’t seem to realise the relationship I have with my customers.”

After the initial rebuff, Robbie said he’d been feeling more hopeful and both he and Stephen were up for taking on the company.

He said: “It’s been my hobby and I enjoy what I do. I get a lot of pleasure out of creating and helping to create and solving problems. We’re very versatile with what we produce.”

While all of Drove’s customers are UK-based, a lot of stuff would then go abroad. It had made stuff for Chanel through Linton Tweeds in Carlisle earlier this year.”

Dawn Robson-Bell, managing director of Lochcarron, said: “We can confirm that Drove Weaving has ceased operations in its current form as a division of Lochcarron and closed at the end of last week.

“However, we are in discussions with two interested parties, one of which is the current management team.

“The door is not closed on this and we will continue with these negotiations to see whether we can find a mutually-acceptable outcome.

We are aware of the impact the loss of this service could have on commission customers and we have already offered commission weaving as an option from our site in Selkirk and we have made contact with the majority of the current customer base to advise of this.”

 
 
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