A significant employer in one of the north’s most fragile areas has announced a six-figure investment this week, after securing a £33,360 contribution from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Skyeskyns Ltd, based in Waternish in north west Skye, is the only commercial scale woolskin tannery in Scotland and one of only two in the UK.
The business is investing over £100,000 in the construction of a new building that will enable operational workflow improvements to be made. The development will help secure 18 jobs and increase turnover by around a third.
With steel work nearly complete, the new facility should be operational by late April.
The family-run company established in 1983 also incorporates a five star tourist attraction. This draws more than 17,000 visitors a year to see the high quality sheepskin products being manufactured using traditional processes.
Dave Till, Skyeskyns general manager, said: “We will be incorporating a dedicated goods inward facility, increased storage capacity and a packing and dispatch area. This will accommodate increasing business from the showroom and online orders without impacting production flow in the tannery.
“Once these operations have moved into the new building, the tannery can expand into the space left behind and this should improve overall capacity and the visitor experience too.”
Providing sheepskin products from rare breeds and a devotion to high quality manufacturing processes allows Skyeskyns to tap into high end, niche markets.
Raine MacLennan, HIE development manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross said: “Skyeskyns has an excellent reputation for quality and customer service. Addressing production bottlenecks will help it improve efficiency, increase sales and grow its international presence.
“The company is a significant local employer in Waternish. Working with other businesses in the Visit Waternish marketing group helps to attract thousands of visitors off the main road each year into one of the most fragile and remote parts of the Highlands and Islands. Skyeskyns is therefore an economic catalyst that effectively disperses tourist traffic to other local businesses and communities in northern Skye.”