Plans have been unveiled to build a new soap factory in the Lochaber region which will create more jobs.
The Highland Soap Company has put forward plans to expand its business in Fort William by building a new factory on the outskirts of the town.
It will be a House of Bruar-type venture with a visitor centre, play area for children, shop and cafe built on the land and could open as early as 2021.
The site is likely to rival popular stores such as the Arran Aromatics venture on the Isle of Arran.
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The Highland Soap Company firm, which also has shops in Spean Bridge, Oban and Pitlochry, also plans to open up new stores at other tourist sites in St Andrews and Edinburgh.
The expansion plans emerged days after bosses at the world’s largest salmon farming company Mowi revealed they were considering relocating from Lochaber to the seafood company’s new base on Skye.
It could be a blow to the region affecting 150 jobs.
Highland Soap Company founder Emma Parton, 45, revealed that her expansion plans would create employment in the area.
Ms Parton, from Roy Bridge, said: “It is our staff that make the business, we would not be where we are today without them. To be able to build that team of staff is a very exciting prospect.
“We will secure at least 30 jobs, but as the brand grows so will the staff numbers.”
The successful business was first launched in Fort William five years ago and has now grown too big for its current premises at an industrial site on the outskirts of the town.
The owners will soon be ready to apply for planning permission for the new site which was formerly the home of the British Aluminium social club. It will be shared with infant outdoor nursery Stramash.
Moving to the new site would create and safeguard jobs.
Company investor Angus MacDonald, who owns the Highland Bookstore and is developing the Fort William cinema, said the project would be completed in two phases.
The factory would be completed first in order to meet the growing demand for company products followed by the cafe and shop.
Co-owner Archie MacDonald, 28, told the Press and Journal the new development would be a clear sign that the ambitious company was ready to become a national brand.
Mr MacDonald said: “It is a very exciting time for the business, and while the new factory is on the horizon, we have a new store opening this week in St Andrews.
“We are looking for premises on the Royal Mile.
“We do everything by hand. We only have two machines – one to put stickers on our bottles and the other to weight the ingredients.
“We only use the highest quality ingredients and we have 17 different fragrances that we use in our soap, liquid soap, hand creams and skin care.
“The market for our products has continued to increase. One area of growth has been in providing products to high end hotels and businesses. We are making full size bottles for our hotel and guest house market – an area we hope to continue to grow.”