Miranda Dobson

Yorkshire textiles partners win financial backing

Two West Yorkshire textiles companies have received funding from Yorkshire Bank, following the successful co-launch of a new home-spun product.

Designer Yarns, based in Keighley, teamed up with Laxtons Specialist Yarns, in Guiseley, to design, spin and market a new British yarn called Blue Faced Leicester.

A share of Yorkshire Bank’s £1bn Business Expansion Fund (BEF) was secured by Designer Yarns after the product’s success, while Laxtons won financial support from the bank in 2012.

As the first Yorkshire-based commercial wool manufacturer to set up for 25 years when it was founded in 2010, Laxtons used its funding to acquire new specialist machinery.

Designer Yarns said it used its share of the BEF to acquire 10,000 sq ft of additional warehouse space in Keighley, bringing its total to 25,000 sq ft.

Managing director of Designer Yarns, David Watt, said: “We realised that, while on one hand the business world is becoming more global, there is a growing interest in goods which are local and part of a tradition whether it be foods, furniture or textiles.

“We talked to Laxtons and decided to develop a yarn using the wool from this iconic British breed of sheep and manufacture and sell it from West Yorkshire, a traditional heart of the UK textile industry.

“Sales so far have outstripped even our most optimistic expectations so it is likely to become the first in a new family of Blue Faced Leicester yarns in our range.

“While other British wools are manufactured around the world, the unique element of this is that this is entirely a West Yorkshire initiative.”

The firm currently employs 20 people in the UK and has a turnover of £6m, with a distribution network of 700 independent UK stores.

60% of the company’s products are manufactured by licensees in Italy, while others are sourced from continental Europe, Japan, South America.

It also has a German subsidiary, Designer Yarns Deutschland, which was launched in 2009 and has 12 staff.

Mr Watt added: “Our plan is to increase overall turnover by up to 30 per cent in the next three years by seeking out, or sourcing, more yarns which fit our profile and enable our customers to be profitable.

“The additional warehouse facility backed by Yorkshire Bank, which has been brilliant, is to support extra stockholding and dispatch efficiency.”

Phil Shearstone, business development manager for Yorkshire Bank in West Yorkshire, said: “It is very rewarding to be supporting two West Yorkshire textile businesses which are at the forefront of knitting yarn innovation and to play a role in supporting a new British product which is being exported worldwide.”

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