ANGUS Provost Helen Oswald visited J & D Wilkie in Kirriemuir last Wednesday to meet the winners of the International Ambassador - GoAhead Angus Award.
“Textile innovator J & D Wilkie is an inspiring Angus Ambassador winner,” said Provost Helen Oswald.
“J & D Wilkie, based in Kirriemuir, impressed the judges with its innovative products, increased efficiency and its success in new international markets,” said the Provost.
“It’s so encouraging to see a local company doing so well.”
Bullet-resistant vests, camouflage tarpaulin, and anti-suicide sheets are just a few of the new products made locally by J & D Wilkie.
“Taking on the Jack Ellis brand to make armoured vests has opened up many international markets for us,” said Stewart Liddell, Sales & Marketing Director.
“We sell our products to a wide variety of markets including military, police, defence, security and media and the international demand is increasing for this type of product.
“As the vests are designed and made in Kirriemuir, a ‘made in UK’ label gives us the credentials as quality manufacturers in these international markets,” continued Stewart.
“Reliability is key to maintain our reputation and we carry out rigorous tests to ensure that quality levels of ballistic, knife and spikes resistant vests are of the highest standard.”
As Bob and Stewart guided the Provost around the company’s factory, Bob Low, managin director of J & D Wilkie, explained how, with the company being a textile manufacturer, J & D Wilkie can also offer clients bespoke products to meet specific needs.
“These could be anything from pinned rollers for other textile manufacturers, a tarpaulin that is resistant to thermal imaging for the MOD, to an anti suicide sheet for the prison service.
“We get presented with a need by clients and develop products that offer solutions.”
With increased competition and the challenges of a recession, J & D Wilkie has heavily invested in the Kirriemuir factory and staff and in 2012 the company committed half a million pounds in a new yarn spinning facility in China, alongside its existing weaving facility.
This has resulted in improved production efficiency, increased breadth of internationalisation, more speciality products and reduced bank borrowing.
Bob shares the results of this investment: “Over the last few years we’ve seen turnover grow by 25 per cent, overseas sales grow by 30 per cent, and exports taking 60 per cent of our turnover.
Provost Helen Oswald was extremely impressed with the factory innovations and efficiency.
“The International Angus Ambassador Award is well earned by J & D Wilkie. With the company’s international connections, the judges and I believe that they will be great ambassadors for Angus.”