A luxury goods design firm is investing £645,000 in a new-state-of-the-art factory in Ross-shire to meet growing global demand.
Anta Scotland, which produces textile goods and ceramics at its premises in Fearn, near Tain, expects the expansion will boost sales by 50% and create a dozen jobs.
The firm, which was started 25 years ago by husband and wife team, Annie and Lachlan Stewart, currently employs 40 people at its factory which is currently an “inherited collection” of buildings.
Ms Stewart said the new factory, which was designed by her architect husband, incorporates a number of eco-friendly energy schemes and will increase the company’s productivity by 20%.
“We have put up solar panels and laid floor for a underfloor hearing system where we can capture the heating from the gas-fired kilns,” she said.
Trained as a conservation architect, Mr Stewart used the same skills to design the energy efficiency of the new factory as he did when he rebuilt the ruined Ballone Castle in nearby Portmahomack into the family’s home.
“When you do a building like that you have to make it comfortable with modern life,” said Ms Stewart.” He has been able to employ 21st century technology into his buildings like ground source heating. That is what we are doing in the new factory too. We are going to be generating more electricity than we need ourselves and we will sell the surplus back to the grid.”
The Stewarts returned to the Highlands and began manufacturing ceramic stoneware and soft furnishings in 1990. The shop in Fearn attracts around 10,000 visitors a year. There are Anta shops in Edinburgh, Glasgsow and London and a growing e-commerce site.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) also invested £117,000 towards the company’s expansion. The finds will also support Anta’s attendance at trade events in Scotland, London and New York,
The company, which specialises in contemporary Scottish design manufactured in the Scottish Highlands, produces textiles sourced from locally sourced wool. It is dyed, spun and woven in the Borders where it is turned into a range of carpets, bags and other luxury fashion goods in Fearn, where it also produces a range of ceramics.
Susan Addison, senior development manager with HIE, said: “The Highlands and Islands has a growing international reputation for excellence in creative industries. Anta is very much part of that.
“The company is a significant employer in the area with an excellent reputation and huge growth potential.The management team are ambitious for the company and embracing the prospect of further growth.”
She added: This development represents an investment in people and infrastructure, and in driving long-term improvements in competitiveness. It will create valuable new job opportunities locally, which will in turn benefit the wider community. I am delighted we are able to help with this very worthwhile development.”