Uist Wool on the tiny island of North Uist in Scotland’s Western Isles is planning to revive its wool and processing traditions.
The co-operative, which received start-up support from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), has been set up by a 113-strong group of crofters, sheep breeders and weavers to support the local economy by manufacturing yarn and woollen products from locally-produced fleece.
It is planning to establish a spinning mill, training centre, office and shop on a croft in Grimsay, North Uist. It will buy, produce and sell woollen products for markets within the Outer Hebrides and internationally.
“Wool was a very important part of the local economy for hundreds of years but is now nearly worthless,” explains Uist Wool’s Mary Norton.
CDS helped to register the enterprise as a community benefit society and offered advice on drawing up a business plan. The group has received grants from groups including the Big Lottery Fund.
CDS chief executive Sarah Deas explains: “A good business plan is about setting a strategic direction which is clear to all. It gives the business a focus. In remote communities, this co-operative model – and the business plan which shapes it – can be extremely successful.”