Kirriemuir Textiles Firm Wilkie Snaps Up American Factory

Historic Kirriemuir textiles company Wilkie has completed a deal to acquire a factory in America.

The Angus business has acquired the factory and its machines in Lowell, Massachusetts from Bradford Industries.

The transaction, for an undisclosed sum, will see Wilkie add 25 employees and retain around £6.25m in revenue.

Wilkie has operated in Angus since 1868 and develops industrial textiles and materials to solve specific problems for customers globally.

The firm said this strategic move will help its growth in America, a key market.

Chief executive Hamish Rowan, the sixth generation of the family business, said: “This strategic move reinforces our commitment to growth, innovation, and producing high-quality products made in the USA.

“Wilkie’s acquisition of Bradford Industries not only enhances our manufacturing footprint but also cements our pledge to leading-edge development in the technical textiles industry.

“The site will continue to specialize in key markets such as airbag coating, cast polymer films, parachute and high performance sports equipment coating, military applications, and advanced coatings for various industrial applications.”

Wilkie plans to invest heavily in research and development at the new American operation.

It said integrating its existing American sales activity, will add a further £4m in revenue.

Avidia Bank in Massachusetts assisted with financing to purchase the assets. The factory will be rebranded as Wilkie America.

Mr Rowan added: “We are enthusiastic about the opportunities this acquisition presents, particularly in military, commercial, and technical coated fabrics markets.

“We foresee significant synergies, particularly with Wilkie Scotland supplying woven fabrics to be coated and resold by Wilkie America. This enhances our value chain.

“This acquisition paves the way for a prosperous future for Wilkie.”

Wilkie has around 180 members of staff between its two Angus sites in Kirriemuir and Forfar, which opened in 2022.

The Forfar site – which includes a weaving workshop and PVC coating line – was an investment of around £2m and created 25 new jobs.

The Wilkie group, which also includes a Chinese factory, has sales of around £56m a year.

General manager John Reid added: “Wilkie has been going through a period of rapid growth in the last couple of years, 65% in the last financial year.

“This was driven by a significant expansion of our capabilities and our team here in Angus.

“We increased our park of looms from 40 to 124, created the new factory in Forfar, a brand new warehouse in Kirriemuir and added new coating processes.

“To match this growth our team grew from 80 to 180 people, all employed in Angus.

“We’ve been selling into the US for some time and had the view that a manufacturing footprint would be hugely beneficial. The investment we’re making now is an ideal first step in this.”

This article appeared in The Courier on 10 June 2024.

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