Can Kirkburn Mill weather the storm?

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SMITHS of Peterhead is in negotiations with HM Revenue and Customs after Peterhead Sherrif Court issued a winding up order against the business after it failed to pay a sum of £124,456 before a December deadline.

The firm’s managing director, Marian Shildrick, confirmed to the Buchanie on Friday that negotiations with HMRC were still ongoing in a bid to resolve the issue.

And Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford also confirmed this week that Smiths was in discussions over issues with HMRC.

She told the Buchanie: “The company has some issues with HM Revenue and Customs. However, I have received assurances from senior officials at HMRC that they will not be taking precipitative action against the company.”

Smiths of Peterhead, which was formerly based at the town’s Kirkburn Mill site, currently employs around 50 staff.

HMRC took action against the business after it accrued more than two years’ worth of outstanding debts.

Smiths moved to its current location at Buchan Braes at Boddam around two years ago after the Kirkburn site was bought by retail giant Aldi.

The firm also has a second base at 18th century Milladen Mill at Mintlaw where most of its manufacturing work is carried out.

Smiths is one of Scotland’s leading producers of woollen fabrics and knitwear yarns and has an impressive list of clients on its books including Prada, Stella McCartney, Gucci and Ralph Lauren.

In 2007, Smiths unveiled ambitious plans for a new purpose-built textile factory at Thunderton near Longside Airfield. The plans for the 33,400 sq ft plant had hoped to safeguard jobs and create a further 40.

This latest news comes just weeks after the collapse of the Mintlaw-based Les Taylor Group, which went into receivership with the loss of 164 jobs and has cast further gloom for the Buchan economy.