ONE of the Highlands’ most iconic “estate tweed” businesses has been sold by its fourth-generation family owners.
Campbells of Beauly, which dates back 158 years, has been purchased by the Brooke and Sugden textile families for an undisclosed sum. The deal follows the Campbell family’s decision to retire next spring.
Campbells specialises in estate tweeds, a traditional herringbone pattern covered with a basic check. Each Highland estate typically commissions its own version, with colour tones matching the local landscape.
The business employs nine staff, including tailors specialising in sporting wear. Historically, it held Royal Warrants for both the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor) and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Based in West Yorkshire, the history of John Brooke & Sons dates back to the time of Henry VII and is believed to be the oldest surviving family business in the UK. It produced woollens up to the 1980s, though its mill at Armitage Bridge has now been converted to a technology park.
The current head of the business, Charlie Brooke, farms at Midfearn in Ross-shire.
James Sugden was awarded the OBE in 2010 for 40 years of services to the textiles industry. He oversees the Johnstons of Elgin knitwear plant near his home in Hawick, which runs in tandem with the weaving mill in Elgin where he spent 20 years as managing director.
The deal comes after “many years” of discussions between the Campbells and Brooke and Sugden. The latter two have known each other since their time as cloth-making apprentices in Huddersfield.
Sugden said they would give particular attention to the Campbells the reputation of the “guardians of tweed”.
“We intend to take good care of it and invest and develop the assets, with particular reference to tailoring and retailing,” Sugden said. “Campbells have some unique designs and selling points and, in this age of mass produced textiles, often sold in impersonal department stores, we believe there is a place for bespoke service.”
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