Leather goods specialist bags funding with support from Business Gateway

Based in Helensburgh, Leather Guild, design, manufacture and wholesale a comprehensive range of leather and tweed accessories such as handbags, wallets and tweed caps.

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A leather and Scottish Tweed specialist business has brought Tweed stitching operations ‘in-house’, following funding advice from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute.

Based in Helensburgh, Leather Guild, design, manufacture and wholesale a comprehensive range of leather and Tweed accessories such as handbags, wallets and caps.

Founded by husband and wife team, Mairi and Stephen Clayton, Leather Guild is currently a finalist in the 2022 Gift of the Year competition with two new and innovative products: Chipsafe – a wallet that allows safe contactless payments without removing the card and a dog treat bag – originally commissioned by Balmoral Castle Estate.

Creative director, Mairi Clayton, not only designs all the company’s products but also the Tweeds they are made from, commissioning Scottish weavers to make the fabric and then incorporating high tech water repelling finishes to help the products resist the Scottish weather.

In addition to wholesaling their products to many quality tourist destination retailers in Scotland, the couple take on bespoke work with client clan tartans and estate Tweeds. They also run a retail store at the base in Helensburgh, called Tweedie, which offers the full Leather Guild range plus some extra special pieces.

During the pandemic, the shop was closed and other routes to market such as trade shows were cancelled. To adapt to this, Mairi and Stephen worked with Business Gateway for advice about using social media and marketing which has helped support business growth through online sales.

Leather Guild is currently a finalist in the 2022 Gift of the Year competition with two new and innovative products: Chipsafe – a wallet that allows safe contactless payments without removing the card and a dog treat bag – originally commissioned by Balmoral Castle Estate.

Through Business Gateway, Stephen and Mairi received a selection of grants from the Local Growth Accelerator Programme, which is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-20 Structural Funds Programme.

This funding enabled work to be undertaken locally that would have otherwise been contracted out. The purchase of specialist equipment allowed the couple to move tweed stitching in-house and expand their team by hiring four people (and growing) from the local area. This has resulted in increased throughput and greater flexibility for the business, as they are no longer reliant on contracted production.

Co-founder Stephen, of PM Leather, said: ‘We knew we needed to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and Business Gateway helped us with this by advising on what we could do to build resilience into our business. The team then signposted us to funding that enabled us to increase our production in Helensburgh. This has not only ensured our business growth, but kept us based in Argyll and Bute, which is vital to both of us.’

Mairi and Stephen have also benefited from a range of Business Gateway’s growth services, including one to one guidance from a dedicated adviser, specialist advice and Scottish Enterprise support with intellectual property and exporting.

Jen Smith, business adviser for Business Gateway, said: ‘Stephen and Mairi produce wonderful products that showcase what Scotland has to offer. Working with us they have been able to adapt to challenges and secure funding to move production in-house, which will not only generate future business growth but ensure that the business remains firmly rooted in the region.’

To find out more about Business Gateway and its services visit bgateway.com.

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Caption: Based in Helensburgh, Leather Guild, design, manufacture and wholesale a comprehensive range of leather and tweed accessories such as handbags, wallets and tweed caps.

NO_T19_Tweedie Shop-02

Caption: Leather Guild is currently a finalist in the 2022 Gift of the Year competition with two new and innovative products: Chipsafe – a wallet that allows safe contactless payments without removing the card and a Dog treat bag – originally commissioned by Balmoral Castle Estate.