Richards of Aberdeen
Founded more than 200 years ago, Richards operated what was to become the oldest iron-frame mill in Scotland and the last remaining textile mill in the 'Granite City'. It was also one of the principal employers with more than 3,000 people working in the mill at its height in the early 20th century.
Richards of Aberdeen became a public limited company in 1898. With the decline in traditional flax spinning activities, in the mid-1960s the company embarked upon a programme of development of synthetic yarn ranges which it maintained with few changes until the dawn of the 21st century.
The company was purchased by millionaire Ian Suttie, chief executive of First Oil, in 2002 after facing receivership. In 2003 the company moved its headquarters to the outskirts of Aberdeen, with assistance from Aberdeen City Council.
Fifty-two job losses were announced at the start of November 2004, despite the employment of 80 new staff in May of that year. Soon the entire remaining workforce of 196 was made redundant. Many had been at the mill for their entire working lives. Workers were angered not only by news of the closure itself but by the way they discovered what had happened: payments simply stopped arriving in their bank accounts. Another indicator came when supplies ceased to arrive at the site. Aside from global economic conditions, one of the main factors causing the closure was the company pension scheme which by November 2004 faced a shortfall of £5m.
The pension scheme continues to cause problems for the mill's former employees and there are calls to wind up the plan as soon as possible.
The mill is currently under consideration for possible conversion into an 'urban village' of 398 homes, many of which would be in historical listed buildings which require careful planning considerations before any work can commence. As of 17 August 2007, the Council remains undecided on the matter.