New Year Honours: MBE for managing director of last linen factory in Kirkcaldy

The managing director of Scotland’s last linen factory which was based in Kirkcaldy has received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

By Debbie Clarke
Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:31 pm

Angus Nicoll was the head of Peter Greig & Co Ltd, Scotland's last surviving linen factory, and he has been honoured for his service to the textile industry.

Peter Greig & Co, based in St Clair Street, Kirkcaldy, was the last original linen weaving mill in the UK and had been in operation since 1825, employing large numbers of people in the Lang Toun and surrounding areas until its closure in April, 2021.

Born at Perth Royal Infirmary, Mr Nicoll was educated at Arbroath High School, New Park School in St. Andrews and Glenalmond College, near Perth.

Angus Nicoll, was the managing director of Scotland’s last linen factory which was based in Kirkcaldy. He has received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Pic: George McLuskie.

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Initially taking a job in the linen mill, which is his family’s business, in 1984, Mr Nicoll worked his way up through the company, until he and his siblings bought the business in 1998 – at a time when customers were outsourcing supply to China and India.

He diversified into dobby designs and colour woven products and utilised the skill sets of the local workforce with huge success. The 61-year-old’s designs were very popular among interior designers and retailers in theBritish Textile industry.He has balanced doing good for the community with running a business, introducing young people from families of multi generations in unemployment to work regular hours, earning their own money.

In its heyday: Staff at Peter Greig & Co inspecting and mending the items. Pic: Peter Greig & Co.

Mr Nicoll, who lives near Kennoway, explained why the difficult decision was taken to shut Peter Greig & Co Ltd: “There were multiple reasons that brought about the decision to close”, he said.“The biggest one being the next generation did not wish to take the business forward.

“Continual large cost increases and supply chain disruption and ever tightening margins to unrealistic levels despite a very efficient production unit combined with the ever increasing influx of cheap cloths from further afield made large inroads to the bulk business the company was modelled on.

“The decision to close was very difficult indeed but was sadly the correct one, especially as the subsequent COVID requirements and now unrealistically extended raw material delivery time would insure the factory would have run at unacceptably low levels.”

Looking back: One of the factory staff at work at Peter Greig & Co. Pic: Peter Greig & Co.

Mr Nicoll said he is delighted to have been honoured: “It is both an enormous privilege and honour to have been awarded an MBE for services to the textile industry and I am thrilled to have received it,” he said.

“Having been the grateful recipient of it I very much feel it is a team award which I share with all the dedicated people who were a part of Peter Greig & Co Ltd both past and recent, whose contribution and service to both the Scottish and UK textile industry was invaluable from the company’s original site on St Clair Street in Kirkcaldy.

"A large part of my life has been immersed in the manufacture and promotion of natural fabrics, particularly linen and this has been made possible not only by all at the factory but also the immense and unstinting support of both my immediate and extended family.

"It is this support which has been instrumental in the many achievements of the company over the decades of which I am most proud.”

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