One of Scotland’s largest kilt-makers, hirers and retailers has raised funds to help modernise its business.
Highlandwear firm McCalls has seven branches in Scotland, including Dundee and Broughty Ferry.
It has revealed investment plans after securing funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) via the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The pandemic forced the company to diversify its ways of working in the face of temporary store closures and wedding postponements.
The past 11 months have seen its 84-strong workforce adapt to conduct virtual consultations through Zoom. In-store fittings became socially distanced, when restrictions allowed.
Funding package ensures operation of kiltmaking factory
The new funding package will allow the business to update its marketing strategy and incorporate its new-found ways of working in the years ahead.
In addition, it will support with staff retention and retraining, and ensures the continued operation of its Tillicoultry factory, Daiglen of Scotland.
This facility is essential to ensuring the quality of handmade kilts supplied by the firm.
Optimistic for the future
Iain Hawthorne, who took over the business nearly 40 years ago, has expanded it from modest beginnings as an independent store.
The managing director said: “Coronavirus brought with it a number of difficulties, but our resilient team have been fantastic in adapting to new ways of working to ensure our operations can continue.
“Thankfully, we have been able to move 90% of Covid affected bookings to new dates due to their hard work.
“Our most valuable asset is our staff, and the funding has supported us in retaining their expertise.
“As a result, we are even more optimistic for the future.”
History of long-established firm
Established in 1887, McCalls has its headquarters in Aberdeen. It also has outlets in Elgin, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
As well as renting and selling Highlandwear for special occasions, it sells Scottish giftware and a mix of antique and contemporary jewellery.
It was founded by Daniel McCall, an international auctioneer, and his wife Annie McCall, a market trader who sold from a stall in the Castlegate area of Aberdeen.
The business initially sold second-hand goods, mainly clothing.
But an influx of imported clothing and the rise of the high street stores meant the demand for second-hand clothing diminished.
The business saw an opportunity to specialise in all Highlandwear products whilst making their availability affordable through hire.
McCalls’ Stirlingshire traditional kiltmaking factory, Daiglen of Scotland, also has a long history.
The two-storey building was originally built in 1846 and was the house of a Mr Archibald of Archibald Mills, who was the owner of what was then called Tillicoultry Woollen Mill.
Mr Hawthorne praised the Royal Bank of Scotland for its support, singling out relationship manager Carol Gray for her advice.
He added: “The support has been excellent – the relationship we’ve built with Carol over the years is solid, and her expert advice is always appreciated.
“Really, it’s the people at the heart of the bank that make the difference, and we’ve always been made to feel valued customers.”
Ms Gray said: “The wedding industry and its suppliers have been particularly affected by necessary pandemic restrictions, so CBILS funding has been essential in supporting this industry stalwart to adapt.
“We’re looking forward to witnessing their continued growth in the coming months.”