Shetland family-owned woollen mill invests in latest tech with £34k from HIE
A Shetland knitwear firm, Jamieson’s Spinning, has completed a project to increase capacity and productivity by using innovative technology.
The family-owned business, and Shetland’s largest commercial woollen mill, operates from Sandness and has invested in the latest Shima Seiki knitting machine that uses Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology – a process that uses computerised machines for creating knitwear.
The firm has been awarded £33,600 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the project, which enables ‘whole garment’ products to be knitted to speed up the production process.
The new machine will be used to produce plain knitted garments, meaning linkers can be diverted to work exclusively on the more skilled task of finishing Fair Isle garments. The machinery will enable the company to produce more plain knitted garments and will help meet the growing demand for its products from all over the world.
Jamieson’s Spinning buys Shetland wool and completes all stages of production at the mill before turning it into Shetland yarn in five different weights and more than 400 colours.
As one of the main textile manufacturers in Shetland, the company supplies a range of textiles to wholesale companies. The in-house production employs over 30 staff in the spinning mill with further staff employed at their retail outlet in Lerwick. This outlet, along with their online stores, sells unique Fair Isle and Shetland garments and hand knitting yarns.
The new knitting machine will enable the company to increase production by approximately 3,000 units per year, equating to around £126k of sales. With the machine at full capacity, it will also require around 1700kg of yarn to knit into sweaters, which will require an increase in yarn production from their spinning mill.
Manager, Garry Jamieson, said: “Sales of both our knitwear and hand knitting yarns have been growing steadily for the past 20 years.
“With HIE’s support we have been able to invest in newer technology like this Whole Garment machine, adding to the eight older CNC machines we current use to produce knitwear.”
Katrina Wiseman, HIE’s area manager, said: “We are very pleased to support this project as we recognise the importance of increasing productivity to allow business growth, particularly in international markets. This will also support the retention of jobs, and also families in Shetland’s Westside.
“As a valuable employer in a rural location, the company also has a key role to play in the cultural attraction of Shetland as a place to visit.”