The proprietor of Skeld-based Shetlandeli is scouring the West Side for a suitable premises after the council put an industrial building up for sale that the preserves manufacturer had hoped to rent to expand its business.
Shetlandeli owner Jill Franklin said that she was very disappointed that the council had decided to sell Unit 2 at the Skeld Industrial Estate, shortly after putting Unit 1 on the market. That older, smaller building is still in the process of being sold.
The two buildings had once housed the Shetland Smokehouse that was for a number of years the only significant private employer in the area. More recently the larger building was home to Shetland Cheese. Its use as a cheese factory dictated that the ventilation system would have to be thoroughly cleaned if it was to be used for food processing in future.
According to Ms Franklin, it would be too much of a leap for Shetlandeli, which has only been established for a year or so, to attempt to buy the unit. But she says that the firm, which has established a UK-wide customer base, will have to move from the Skeld Hall if it is to expand.
While Ms Franklin is very grateful to have been allowed to use the hall, it has neither the space nor the specialised facilities for a food processing company.
Ms Franklin said: “It’s a sad day for Skeld that it is losing these two buildings and the council is doing nothing to support economic development in the area now.
“I know the council is having to save money, but it still does not make it any easier. Our options have been drastically reduced now.”
But West Mainland councillor and SIC political leader Gary Robinson said that council officials had been faced with a tough choice when the council could not effectively afford to bring the building back up to required standard.
He said: “The council could have rented it out again – but at considerable cost. There is no question that the building had deteriorated. Part of that was done previously when the smoker was taken out through the wall.
“Certainly there was not the money available to renovate it into a suitable building again. It’s disappointing that the council could not invest but with the way finances are at the moment that would have been extremely difficult.”
“Still it is an opportunity for someone to buy the building and put it to good use and hopefully for the use of the local economy.”