World's leading manufacturer of tartan to move its Selkirk visitor centre 'in-house'

A planning bid has been submitted by the world's leading manufacturer of tartan to relocate its Selkirk visitor centre 'in-house'.

Dawn Robson-Bell with Princess Anne in 2018. (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Dawn Robson-Bell with Princess Anne in 2018. (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Lochcarron of Scotland's Visitor Centre, incorporating a shop and cafe, is based in a separate building to Waverley Mill in the town's Dunsdale Road.

Now a planning bid has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council to move it within the mill on Rodgers Road.

The relocation is partly a result of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Scotland's tourism industry.

But it has also been described as an "exciting opportunity" to integrate the centre within the mill to "enhance the visitor experience".

Dawn Robson-Bell, Lochcarron's managing director, has outlined plans for a new scaled-down but still "prestigious" centre.

She said: "Due to changes in the nature of our business as a result of Covid we are planning to rescale our visitor centre/retail/coffee shop to better reflect future requirements.

"Luckily this has coincided with a break in the lease clause on the current premises which is a stand-alone building adjacent to but not part of the main mill complex.

"The proposed new visitor centre will take up less than 15 per cent of the space within an area currently occupied by our head office, showroom and designs and patterns room.

"Our visitor centre whilst important to the business as a source of revenue and interest, is a relatively small percentage of our overall turnover. However, it has been and will continue to be a prestigious element of what we do and our shop window to local and international visitors as well as a great showcase for us when we have trade customers and prospects visiting us.

"The visitor centre was a 5 Star Visit Scotland Attraction and we hope to regain this award once we are back up and running post-relocation by offering an enhanced experience through both our retail store and from the mill tours we offer.

"However, we have decided not to include offering a cafe in the new set up. Our mill tour is key as is the retail experience and we anticipate restarting as and when we are able to reopen."

The hope is the new centre could be operating from Easter.