Milton Woollen Mills, corner Edward and Elderlee Streets,
Milton. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A historic woollen mill is to close in Milton with the
loss of 28 jobs.
QualitYarns NZ Ltd workers were issued with redundancy
notices on Friday, with the mill, which once produced the
first Swanndri shirts, set to close its doors for the last
time this week.
Workers leaving the mill yesterday declined to comment.
"It is too upsetting," one man said.
Managing director Mike Barra would not comment, saying: "I am
tied up with other matters at the moment. I will be making a
statement in due course."
Last night, a mill worker told the Otago Daily Times workers
were given letters at work on Friday confirming their
redundancies. A "pretty distraught" Mr Barra had told shocked
workers the mill was no longer economical to run.
"We are all accepting it ... wouldn't have a clue what people
are going to do though," the worker said.
Yesterday, the mill was still producing a range of items
including balls of wool for knitting, yarn for carpet and
clothing, with some items sold at its factory shop.
Work and Income would meet staff this week.
Bruce Woollen Mill established the Milton-based business in
1897, and at one point manufactured the first woollen
overshirts on behalf ofSwanndri.
The company was bought by Alliance Textiles in 1962, and
after the mill closed in1999, it was later bought by its
The company opened the mill on January 17, 2000, with 11
staff, and by the end of its first year employed 35 people.
It was the only mill in New Zealand producing woollen,
semi-worsted and worsted yarns.
Three years ago, the company laid off 15 workers, with Mr
Barra citing cheap imported clothing from China and India,
and a reduction in tourists buying woollen products as
reasons for the redundancies.
1897: Bruce Woollen Mill established to scour, card
and spin and weave wool into yarn, blankets, rugs and
1901: Mill destroyed by fire.
1902: Rebuilt mill opens with latest imported
1962: Business taken over by Alliance Textiles.
1992: Forty-nine workers locked out for refusing to
sign new employment contract agreements. A group of 13
protest outside the mill gates for the next six years -
longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union
1999: Alliance Textiles closes mill, 54 jobs
1999: Mill reopens after QualitYarns New Zealand Ltd
buys mill and equipment, 11 staff, growing to 35 by end of
2000: QualitYarns buys worsted spinning line, creates
another 13 jobs. 2008: Fifteen staff made redundant. Mill
continues to employ 27 staff.
2011: Mill to close.