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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Harris Tweed Hebrides

The abuse last time I made any sort of comment about HTH was intense, and very well written.  Indeed, one might even think that the same person had authored all of the abuse.

I remember that when HTH was formed, I described them as the likely saviours of the Harris Tweed industry, a view that itself was the subject of a lot of abuse.  I stand by that original assessment, although I could never have foreseen the self-immolation of the one-time 99% market leader under the misguided leadership of Mr Haggas.

I represent many weavers, and know many employees at HTH, so I have a vested interest in hoping the company grows from strength to strength, but that doesn't equate to blind acceptance of press releases or the failure to comment on planned developments.

I am told by "someone close to the action" that a major funding announcement is due.

Anyone reading the press releases from the pen of the The Minister for Uig couldn't fail to make the connection.

As if more information was needed, on 5 January, Harris Tweed Hebrides LLP changed its name to Harris Tweed Hebrides Mill LLP and Harris Tweed Hebrides Shawbost Ltd changed its name to Harris Tweed Hebrides Ltd.  As I previously mentioned, with the new HTH being set-up and controlled by a reorganisation specialist the plan seems blindingly clear.

The sums my source has mentioned are very significant sums of public money (which I'm not going to report) matched by private finance, which can only be good for the industry and the islands

All the feedback about the future of HTH is hugely positive; but it would help if the public agencies - in the interest of openness and transparency - insisted that companies seeking finance comply with their obligations to file accounts and Annual Returns as a prerequisite. 

I look forward to the abuse for reporting the reality ahead of the positive spinning press releases. The accounts will be due in by January (so that the LLP partners can file their tax returns) so expect the funding announcement very, very, shortly.

I'm told the MP and MSP are far from happy with this investment in Wilson Enterprises, and have made their objections clear to the appropriate people, but that they are to be ignored.  Look forward to (at best) lukewarm press releases.

I look forward to the abuse resulting in me making this announcement head of the spinning press releases.


Anonymous said...

I have been reading the posts about HTH with great interest.
It was initially worrying to read about the delay in the HTH accounts being registered with Companies House. Whilst HTH has been successful in gaining orders and keeping the Mill running, it is quite easy to imagine this does not necessarily equate to profitability or good cash flow.

I only hope that HTH goes from strength to strength - despite their main investor being a Tory supporting Oil trader.

When you consider that the average age of a weaver is probably 60+ - quite content to weave a max of 100m a week. Plus there were only ever 150 double width looms made - with perhaps 110 in use - this fact would surely put most sane investors off risking their cash on expanding a business with a serious bottle neck to increasing production. Perhaps Mr Haggas accountants has pointed out the limitations of Harris Tweed production – plus the potential of a Mill to be held to ransom by self employed weavers if there were the organisation or inclination to do so.

There are several issues to be addressed before any business case can be put for a development of a sustainable expansion/revival of the industry. Most pressingly - when will new looms be made.

The fact is that a lot of Tweed is currently being woven by motors attached to looms rather than being solely peddled by a weaver - to which the mills and the HTA are turning a blind eye at present because they need the production.

All it needs is a journalist to expose this issue and the bad publicity will set all the recent progress back to square one.

No matter where the money is coming from or to whom it is going, as long as a result is the manufacture of some more looms and training of new weavers – that is all that matters.

Weaving needs to become a full-time living so weavers can commit to a full-time business. At the current rate of £3 per m – this is only achievable by weaving 40+ hours a week. It has only been the last year that all year round work has been available.
There is still a lot of “unfairness” and bias towards which weavers get work and how much. There are some weavers making hay whilst the work is available and peddling 60+ hours a week, whilst others aren’t getting their fair share of work. It was calculated by Leeds University in 1985 that a weaver expends 10% more energy than a coal miner – so it is hardly surprising that weavers aged 60+ don’t want to work 60+ hours a week.

What should have happened when the MacKenzie Mill became available to purchase is for 150 weavers to have found £10000 each plus an similarly equivalent commitment by the Mill workers and have bought the assets and then got a business plan together with the LEC and Council to support a worker owned Coop.

Its really no wonder that the only people willing to invest in the industry are an eccentric Yorkshireman who surely misjudged the Act of Parliament and thought there would be a way of mechanising the production out of the weavers home and planned to develop small township factories, or weaving on looms within his Mill – (probably on 24hour shifts??) Why did Mr Haggas buy up 20 or so double width looms??).

Or in Mr Ian Taylor, surely his investment in HTH is just for vanity and to help his mate Mr Wilson.

It is hard to imagine an industry more suited to being a workers Coop. And it is a tragedy that it is not. So there can be no criticism of HTH or any of the Mill owners. They must all be given credit for investing at al in an industry with only 120 working looms peddled primarily by part-time weavers.

Until there is a new batch of looms made and a new generation of weavers – who themselves are willing to drive the industry forward then to some extent all the recent effort is just rearranging deck chairs.

Without new looms the industry is stuck at around a max double width production of 500 000m a year – hardly enough for 3 Mill owners to justify investing millions of pounds.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t it a shame….

Such a shame most harris tweed workers couldn’t care less about Mr Taylor’s choice of politics or friends. They seem to be selfishly satisfied to just spend the money his company pays out. (Och wait a minute, you’ll have to forget that it mostly gets spent here on the Island to the benefit of other local business, but never mind that).

Such a shame the average age of weavers veers more towards Bowie than TOWIE. Who needs decades of experience anyway?

Such a shame some weavers choose to work 40+ hours a week, at times to suit, in sheds beside their homes. Surely it would be far better to work 40+ hours a week in an air-conditioned battery farm (sorry office), where achievement is measured in modules not meters.

Such a shame that weavers just cannot be relied upon to slow down in carefully measured increments inversely proportional to their age. How much more orderly life would be if some 60+s weren’t raring to tear through 250m a week while some 30+s choose the option of producing only 50m. (What do you mean you have children/sheep to look after? Can’t you see we’re aiming for an issuing utopia here?)

Such a shame the few remaining weavers four years ago didn’t empty their piggy banks to join together as a co-op. Surely after years of industry neglect and decline they’d all have at least that much kicking about down the back of the sofa cushions?

Such a shame turning on a motor uses 10% more energy than working in a coal mine. Thought that was just my hoover, whaddya know eh?

Such a shame our Clo Mor is measurable by quality not quantity. Exclusivity is so passé, let’s aim lower, the market-flooding strategy works so well for Yorkshiremen after all.

I just wanted to jump on the HTH/Ian Taylor/Brian Wilson bashing band-wagon but I’d better settle for wishing us all a long and prosperous future instead.

Now cue heavy ranting ;)……..

ancatdubh said...

Mackenzie's mill did not become a Coop because weavers had tried to form a weavers mill before.The former premises of Clansman mill housed the Weavers Mill.The H.T.A did all it could to make life very difficult for the Weavers Mill,Ian Angus Mackenzie was Chief Executive of the H.T.A at the time.The L.E.C,the council and the MP paid lip service to the Weavers Mill but provided no help at all.
The KM Group (Derrick Murray)responded to the creation of the Weavers Mill by trying to impose the premier weaver contract on weavers.This "contract" meant that weavers would have to give priority to KM Group tweeds, and could not have a financial interest in another Harris Tweed producer,i.e. the Weavers Mill.
Angus Graham(a local councilor) received legal advise on the legal validity of these "contracts". He was however,unable to tell the weavers what this advice was due to the advice being obtained in his role as a councilor. Angus Graham tried to help the Weavers in their battle with the H.T.A , the KM Group,the L.E.C and the council.Wish we had councilors like him now.
Weavers got the message,loud and clear, SHUT THE F**K UP and do as you're told.The men in suits had a plan, weavers had no role to play in the decision making.
It gives me no pleasure to say that H.T.H will go the same way as the KM Group.
Harris Tweed will, however,survive.

Luskentyre Tweed Co. show them how it's done.

Anonymous said...

In Kolea we say
B lie n vely angly

Anonymous said...

This technique of attacking any and all alternative views and perspective is a particular trate of the diminutive demagogue. All means will be utilised to discredit the person. Any viewpoint other than that prescribed will be presented as negative. The operating basis is always, if they are not for me they are against me. I await more from the former media group chairman spinning more bluff in his new role.
The theory is that anyone who questions any of their motives, means or methods then that person will be pilloried os being to blame for all their failures and shortcomings.
Dictatorships are established by first identifing and discribing the opposition. Potential opposition is then attacked to discourage others. People are subjugated and fearful of presenting any meaningful alternative course of self determination. The current itteration of events in Shawbost have already been seen in other areas and the resulting actions of the clique are very much less than pleasant with the small one with the big attitude as always setting the agenda.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a certain Angus Nicolson sitting along side Angus Graham at the meetings held by the independent weavers.

Wasn't Angus Nicolson the independent weavers accountant?

Good to see the socialist Wilson is now one of the monopolists and rich exploitative bosses that he would have railed about only a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Re 9.36
Some politicans change their policies and parties to suit their purpose. From SNP to Labour with the next stop Tory. He certainly considers himself worth of being a Lord atleast and is angling for being honoured as a Baron. This one has form. His good mate the Chairman of Celtic is Baron Reid of Cardowan. Baron W of Cowal?

The curious thing is why he gravitates to despotic regimes. Blair's Labour, Fidel's Cuba, Putin's Russia and Korea. Does he take inspiration from Papa and Baby Doc's Haiti? The weavers can look forward to being the tweedy version of the tonton macoute.We could use the flights as wands to impress people.

The paranoia and lack of dissent in Blair's Labour is acutly similar to the current mindset in Shawbost. Meanwhile the black magic and the dark arts of spin continue

Anonymous said...

Without wanting to add fuel to this rather pathetic fire, as a weaver I'd just like to publicly thank Brian Wilson and the team at Shawbost for their hard work and enterprising endeavours in recent years. As would many of my fellow weavers. Without them this island would have no Harris Tweed industry. The Haggas plan would have died a death, independents like Donald John would have no mill to produce his cloth and we, as a community would be left far poorer both financially and spiritually. I have steady work and income these days thanks to Harris Tweed Hebrides, I'm paid well and on time for my craft and proud to see our cloth worn and talked about far and wide. These are far better times than I've known and long may it last in spite of the usual naysayers and embittered bloggers.

ancatdubh said...

Not that long ago over 1000 people earned a living weaving Harris Tweed,not one of them felt any gratitude towards the mill or the mill owners.
Those involved with H.T.H rely on people having a short memory, and an iam alright sod every body else attitude.The KM Group all over again.
Be grateful that H.T.H is not the only player.

Anonymous said...

Well ancatdubh, would you like to expand on who these other players are? I look forward to the day when you finally make a meaningful contribution to the industry.

ancatdubh said...

H.T.H is not the only mill on the island.

I detect a world weary self-righteousness,or is it a - what have you done for me lately- attitude.