A £2.3m project that will support 24 manufacturing jobs on the Isle of Skye and retain a key community facility has secured up to £441,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The Isle of Skye Candle Company has acquired the Aros Centre in Portree, which has served the local community for more than 20 years.
The company is refurbishing the centre to create a bespoke manufacturing facility with visitor centre. The project will also revitalise the community facilities, which include a cinema/theatre, café, restaurant, retail outlet and training room.
There are plans for a viewing gallery and eventually a formal tour where visitors can manufacture their own scented candle.
The Isle of Skye Candle Company was founded 12 years ago and has steadily expanded its operations to become a popular employer and one of Scotland’s best-known retail brands.
The company currently has five retail outlets throughout Scotland and supplies high-end retailers such as Wholefoods Market and House of Bruar, along with around 150 independent retailers.
Its growth plans have been constrained by lack of space to expand its manufacturing and operations to meet market demand.
The acquisition of the Aros Centre keeps the facility locally owned and available to the community, while allowing Skye Candles to continue its expansion.
HIE has worked extensively with the company for the past four years, through its period of expansion.
Alastair Nicolson, HIE’s area manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, said:
“There are many social and economic benefits to this project. It will create a bespoke manufacturing facility for The Isle of Skye Candle Company, allowing it to continue growing domestically and overseas, which helps create and retain valuable local employment.”
“At the same time, it will provide an enhanced community facility and high-quality tourism asset, encouraging visitors to stay longer and contribute more to the local economy.”
“I am very pleased we have been able to provide support and look forward to continuing to work with the Isle of Skye Candle Company as the project takes shape.”
Raghnall Robertson, director at Isle of Skye Candle Company, said:
“We are delighted to have completed the purchase of the Aros Centre, which will allow us to keep pace with our growth as we begin to move into export markets worldwide.“
“Thanks to the investment from HIE and our long standing banking partners, Virgin Money, we have been lucky enough to create a high end facility that we hope will be as beneficial to the community as it is popular with visitors.”
“After a short period of closure, we opened our pop up cafe and shop in April, which has done really well whilst the main renovations are ongoing. We expect the shop and restaurant to be fully open by the end of August, before moving our production facilities a month or so later.“
“One of the main drivers for our business has always been to provide good employment on Skye and the purchase and development of the new centre will secure and create many jobs across a broad range of sectors.”
Business Minister Ivan McKee said:
“This investment is a great example of Community Wealth Building, putting existing local assets to good productive use, retaining and potentially creating new employment opportunities for local people, which ties in perfectly with aims of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”