McCalls secures CBILS funding from RBS

Iain Hawthorne

Aberdeen-based Highlandwear company McCalls has secured CBILS funding from Royal Bank of Scotland to help expand its offering as it navigates the impact of the pandemic.

Established in 1887, McCalls has seven stores throughout Scotland, including its home city of Aberdeen, Elgin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee. Providing Highlandwear for special occasions, Scottish giftware, and a mix of antique and contemporary jewellery, it is one of the largest kilt-makers, hirers, and retailers in Scotland.

Iain Hawthorne, who took over the business nearly 40 years ago, has expanded it from modest beginnings as an independent store. He works closely with his wife, family, and tight-knit management team, who have provided expert support and advice on how to modernise its business offerings – which has proved vital in the face of COVID-19.

The pandemic has forced the company to diversify its ways of working in the face of temporary store closures and wedding postponements. The past 11 months have seen its 84-strong workforce adapt to conduct virtual consultations through Zoom and leading socially distanced fittings in store, where restrictions allowed.

The funding from RBS has assisted McCalls in updating its marketing strategy and incorporating its newfound ways of working in the years ahead, allowing it to service its customer base globally. In addition, it will support with staff retention and re-training, and further ensures the continued operation of its Tillicoultry factory, Daiglen of Scotland – essential in ensuring the quality of handmade kilts that are synonymous with McCalls’ reputation.

Iain Hawthorne, owner and managing director of McCalls, said: “Coronavirus brought with it a number of difficulties, but our resilient team have been fantastic in adapting to new ways of working, to ensure our operations can continue. Thankfully, we have been able to move 90% of Covid affected bookings to new dates due to their hard work. Our most valuable asset is our staff, and the funding has supported us in retaining their expertise. As a result, we are even more optimistic for the future.

“The support from Royal Bank of Scotland has been excellent – the relationship we’ve built with Carol over the years is solid, and her expert advice is always appreciated. Really, it’s the people at the heart of the bank that make the difference, and we’ve always been made to feel valued customers.”

Carol Gray, senior relationship manager at RBS, added: “The wedding industry and its suppliers have been particularly affected by necessary pandemic restrictions, so CBILS funding has been essential in supporting this industry stalwart to adapt. We’re looking forward to witnessing their continued growth in the coming months.”

Tags: McCalls, RBS

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