Harris Tweed production 'best in almost 15 years'

Tweed bike ride in Stockholm Harris Tweed has been enjoying a high profile with events including bike rides in tweed in Stockholm

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Production of Harris Tweed has reached its highest level for more than a decade, according the industry.

The cloth is woven on the Western Isles and sold in the UK and exported to countries including Japan and Germany.

The Harris Tweed Industry Forum said 2012 has been the "best year" for production in almost 15 years.

The cloth has been enjoying a high profile with enthusiasts staging cycle rides in tweed in Glasgow, Stockholm in Sweden and Moscow in Russia.

Actor Matt Smith wears a Harris Tweed jacket as the latest incarnation of Doctor Who, while rapper Tinie Tempah is reported to be a fan of the fabric.

Total production is expected to hit more than a million metres of cloth by the end of the year.

Matt Smith as Doctor Who Matt Smith's Doctor Who wears a Harris Tweed jacket

In 2009, after several years of uncertainty for the industry and concerns about a declining and ageing workforce, production ran to just 500,000m. In the 1960s, production ran to about seven million metres of cloth.

Tweed mill bosses said 2012 was proving to be a good year for the business.

Ian Angus Mackenzie, chief executive of Harris Tweed Hebrides, said: "We are confident that we currently have the right balance in terms of number of weavers, weaver capacity and market demand.

"We are looking to continue to grow the value and diversity of the international market for the cloth, and this incremental growth will be supported by existing weavers and new entrants due to natural turnover within the workforce."

Bruce Armitage, of Carloway Mill Harris Tweed, said a stable workforce had been key to success.

Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, added: "I am pleased to confirm that nearly 40 new weavers have entered the workforce over the past four years and are now making a significant contribution to production capacity, which has been met with an increasing appetite for the cloth at home and overseas."

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