Business owner’s frustration over sale of Skeld unit

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.

Jill Franklin founder of Shetlandeli. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Jill Franklin founder of Shetlandeli. Photo: Dave Donaldson

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.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ali Inkster

    • October 2nd, 2015 21:28

    When the council met in secret to hand over the smokehouse to this cheese maker, Why did they choose an unproven incomer over the local plan which would of seen the building still in use? Why did they give this building to an incomer when there was a local cheese maker selling their cheese in local shops? (They are still going strong by the way with no hand up from the council) just goes to show the best business plan on the table means nothing in the real world.

    • Chris Johnston

      • October 3rd, 2015 19:03

      As Deep Throat told Bob Woodward during the US Watergate scandal in the 1970s, “Follow the money.”

  • Michael Garriock

    • October 3rd, 2015 15:59

    Yet again a classic example of “the great and the good” and their service minions displaying a total lack of application of thought and initiative, to achieve the “best outcome” solution to an issue.

    The building needs works, the owners aren’t prepared to source the finance to undertake it. Fine, we get that. However surely it wasn’t beyond their gumption to think about offering it up for lease “as is” and negotiating with potential lessors that they undertook the work themselves in return for a lower/minimal annual lease cost for a limited period. If nobody would touch it, then fine, sell it, but at least test the market instead of just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    As it is, a not very old building, built and maintained by public funds, which has pulled in some income, but could have pulled more, is being “written off”. As it likely will sell for no more thn the value of a serviced site, which will immediately be eaten up by the SIC’s bloated “Admin” costs in completing the transction.


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