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Don and Low: Forfar textile firm sees profits soar by over £10m

Don and Low of Forfar.

Profits at Forfar textile firm Don and Low, which employs more than 400 people, climbed by more than £10 million last year.

Newly-filed accounts for the firm show its pre-tax profit jumped to £10.4m for the year ending December 31 2020.

That was a stark increase from the £821,000 loss recorded in 2019.

Revenue also jumped by nearly £14m – from £66.4m in 2019 to £80m at the textile company.

In his strategic report, published alongside the accounts, company secretary Colin Johnson said the firm had performed well in 2020.

A ‘welcome reversal’ for Don and Low

He said the figures were a “welcome reversal” of the loss reported in 2019.

The company, which has had a presence in the town for more than a century, provided 1m gowns, masks and respirators for NHS Scotland.

Last summer, 100 jobs were lost in technical textiles, but 30 new roles were created in the non-woven division of the company.

That meant the firm made 70 redundancies.

Don and Low, based in Forfar, made a total of 1m PPE items, including masks, for NHS Scotland.

Mr Johnson said: “The unprecedented changes in short-term demand conditions in certain markets, and the group’s ability to react to these changes, was a key factor in the result for the year.

“The coronavirus pandemic affected the business both positively and negatively based on customer demand for certain products.

“On the positive side, the business performed well due to increased demand in the filtration, medical and construction markets.

“Carpet backing and some industrial products were adversely affected by the shutdown of several customers’ supply chains.”

Accounts for Don and Low show sales in woven textiles fell by more than £10m in the reporting year.

Sales dropped from £38m to £22.2m, while in the non-woven side of the business, sales almost doubled.

Don and Low employs more than 400 people at its base in Forfar.

Non-woven sales rose from £28.4m to almost £52m for the year.

Headcount at the Glamis Road-based firm dropped to 409, from 476, but that was due to the redundancies made.

Challenges still lie ahead for Don and Low

Don and Low still expects to face challenges as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Johnson’s strategic report said the business is confident that investments in equipment will see them through.

The firm invested £18m in equipment last year.

Mr Johnson said: “These investments contributed to the strong performance in the year.

“The group is pleased with the progress that has been made in integrating the new equipment into the business.

“It is confident that the move to more capital-intensive manufacturing is the correct one for the long-term.”

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