A Royal seal of approval

J&D WILKIE Limited, a family business which has been operating from Kirriemuir for 144 years, has received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

On hand to present the award on Tuesday morning was Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal who visited the factory as part of a tour Angus.

The Princess Royal was welcomed by managing director Bob Low and the Lord Lieutenant of Angus, Georgiana Osborne.

After enjoying a tour of the factory, the award was presented to Mr Low in the presence of his team of around 90 Kirriemuir-based staff.

The event was also attended by J&D Wilkie’s Portuguese partner Lasi. Wilkie recently secured a contract worth £3 million for the supply of body armour for the Portuguese police.

Originally established in 1868, J&D Wilkie manufactures technical textiles with a primary market for filtration fabrics. The company also designs and manufactures ballistic and stab resistant body armour vests under the brand name of Jack Ellis.

Mr Low said: “We are delighted and proud to have won this highly prestigious award and to be presented with it by The Princess Royal.

“The award is a fantastic credit to our staff who have made J&D Wilkie the business that it is today. With the company celebrating increased sales and a larger share of the market, the entire team should feel proud of the contribution they have made to date and motivated to continue striving for market share and ongoing success.”

The company received the award for the first time for its outstanding commercial success achieved through the implementation of a clear strategy for each of the company’s three business units and the introduction of combined, shared production between the UK and China. The resultant growth that the company has seen is paralleled by a boost in overseas sales of 207 per cent over the last three years.

The company set up production in China five years ago in response to market demand, enabling them to become a global supplier for the technical textiles market and resulting in increased activity in Kirriemuir.

The award coincides with their recent investment of £500,000 in a state-of-the-art yarn spinning unit in their factory in China, which will help secure the raw materials required for Kirriemuir.

In Europe, the market is concentrated in Germany and, over the past three years, Wilkie has seen a steady increase in their export sales.

To meet demand, investment of £300,000 has also been made in Kirriemuir.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise honour outstanding UK companies and encourage the development of British business. They are awarded to businesses in three categories: international trade, innovation and sustainable development each year by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister.

After the visit to J&D Wilkie, The Princess Royal travelled to Forfar to help mark the 20th anniversary of Victim Support in Angus in her role as president of the charity.

As a volunteer with Victim Support for nine years, Councillor Jeanette Gaul was particularly pleased that The Princess Royal joined them on such a special occasion. She said: “It is great to see Victim Support reach their 20th anniversary in Angus.

“We started in the summer of 1992 and have grown in strength since then. We have lots of volunteers now of all different nationalities.

“It is good that The Princess Royal, president of the organisation, came along as part of her busy schedule to help us mark the occasion.”

After her visits to Kirriemuir and Forfar, The Princess Royal made her way to Guthrie Castle to attend Save the Children’s Autumn Fair in her role as Patron of the charity.

From Guthrie Castle, The Princess Royal visited the Mackays factory in Arbroath.