The chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides, Brian Wilson, has been named as Scotland’s Global Director of the Year and also the Highlands and Islands Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors annual awards ceremony in Glasgow.
His double success is the latest recognition of how the Shawbost-based company has transformed the industry’s prospects since producing its first fabric just three years ago. Brian was nominated for the awards by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which has worked closely with the company from its inception.
The Global Award recognised the creative approach adopted by Harris Tweed Hebrides to extending its export markets. It is given to “the individual who successfully promoted Scotland and their organisation overseas – profiling and improving Scotland’s economic performance and international reputation in 2010”.
The citation for the IoD Awards said: “Harris Tweed Hebrides has led to a revival in the Harris Tweed industry. Since its formation in 2007, the company now accounts for over 90 per cent of Harris Tweed production, exports to more than 50 countries and has revitalised the industry, taking the product up-market and re-establishing its place as a key player in the competitive fashion and design sector”.
Crawford Gillies, chairman of Scottish Enterprise, chaired the judging panel and Edinburgh Napier University Business School carried out background checks on the finalists, including Company House records and various other sources through the Edinburgh Research Institute.
Brian Wilson said afterwards: “I appreciate the fact that HIE put me forward for these awards. They have been extremely supportive from the outset which was at a time when there was widespread gloom about the prospects for the Harris Tweed industry. Nobody need be gloomy now.
“It has been a complete team effort by everyone involved in Harris Tweed Hebrides, led at Shawbost by chief executive Ian Angus Mackenzie. Our real reward is the fact that there are now over 50 people employed in what was a derelict mill while 120 home weavers are being kept busy, all on a year-round basis”.
The Highlands and Islands award was presented by HIE chief executive, Alex Paterson. Appropriately enough for a Global Director of the Year, Brian had to leave the Glasgow ceremony early to connect with a flight to Sao Paulo, where Harris Tweed Hebrides are taking part in a UKTI British Lifestyle event, organised by government bodies, United Kingdom Trade International and Scottish Development International.