Efforts fail to find buyer for Peebles mill

Efforts to find a buyer for one of the Borders’ most famous textiles mills have failed and the firm will now close with the loss of 87 jobs.

Robert Noble in Peebles can trace its history back 350 years, but that illustrious pedigree will now come to an end with the closure of the company’s March Street Mills.

Owned since the 1990s by Moorbrook Textiles, Robert Noble shares the Peebles premises in the town with Replin Fabrics, another Moorbrook subsidiary.

Despite some initial interest from potential buyers, no credible offers were received leaving bosses with no option but closure.

The seasonal and volatile nature of the business, as well as changes in global demand, have been blamed.

Robert Noble, which was put up for sale in May, has operated from the March Street premises since 1884 and Moorbrook’s managing director, Ian Laird, knows how badly the decision will hit the workforce and town.

“We are extremely disappointed that, despite significant investment in the mill over the last 10 years, we have been unable to secure a buyer,” said Mr Laird this week.

He went on: “We fully appreciate the impact closure will have on our employees and the local community and our focus in the coming days will be on supporting them at this difficult time.

“In addition, we will continue to work closely with our customers, suppliers and government agencies to do all we can to minimise the impact of closure. As part of these discussions we will begin planning for decommissioning of the site itself, as well as consulting with staff on the completion of existing customer orders.”

A date for final closure of the site is expected to be confirmed shortly.

Robert Noble supplies high quality apparel fabrics and design services and Mr Laird says both it and Replin Fabrics are strong brand names which might yet find a buyer, but that would not save the mill from closure.

Tweeddale West councillor Keith Cockburn said: “We’re all aware it will be difficult to find full employment locally for such a large number of skilled workers.”

Manufacturing at Moorbrook’s mill in Ayrshire is unaffected and seven Peebles employees are believed to be looking at a move to the Ayr business.

Local MSP Christine Grahame has had further talks with management and told us: “I believe everything that could have been done to attract a buyer has been done and it is unfortunate there has been no credible offer.”