£3m investment safeguards 90 jobs

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveils the foundation stone at the site of J7D Wilkie's new factory.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveils the foundation stone at the site of J7D Wilkie's new factory.

Kirriemuir textile firm J&D Wilkie has announced plans to expand its operation in China with a new £3 million factory near Shanghai.

In a move that the firm says will safeguard 90 jobs at its local factory, the new facility at Jianxinh will allow the company to produce technical textiles products, and increase its competitiveness by bringing its yarn-spinning operation into one location.

The announcement was made during First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s trip to China where she visited the site of the new factory with the mayor and vice-mayor of Jianxinh and presented a commemorative foundation stone to be laid at the site.

Founded in 1868, J&D Wilkies, which is still a privately-owned firm, began producing jute and flax and now produces technical textiles, with a primary market for filtration fabrics, and also designs and manufactures ballistic and stab-resistant body armour vests for the military.

The company has almost doubled its production since it established operations in China eight years ago.

The First Minister said: “J&D Wilkie has established itself in China and is looking to grow its business and seize on the opportunities open to the firm. They are a good example to others on how to expand into and benefit from foreign markets.”

Bob Low, director at J&D Wilkie, said the company is proud of its distinguished 150-year heritage in advanced textile technology

He continued: “We listen to our customers’ requirements and act quickly to meet their needs and market challenges. We can help solve their problems with our expertise and deliver tangible benefits with our know-how and ingenious solutions.

“We are proud to show the First Minister of Scotland the start of our new 180,000 sq foot factory being built in Jiaxing, China, that will house an integrated spinning and weaving unit on one site. This will further strengthen our position in Europe where we have seen our Scottish weaving unit almost double since starting the yarn production in China.”