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Gray’s School of Art collaborates with Montrose Rope & Sail to support diversification


Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Gray’s School of Art is joining forces with Angus-based design and manufacturers, Montrose Rope & Sail, as the company looks to break into new high-end markets.

Josie Steed and Neil PatonThe organisations will work together for two years under a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to develop a product range that is design–led, builds on heritage branding and focuses on the luxury end of the market.

Montrose Rope & Sail is one of the oldest independent companies in Scotland, founded over 200 years ago by a rope and sail maker in Leith, which currently focuses on niche markets and produces a range of products - primarily all-weather bags for the oil and gas industry.

With the current downturn in the energy sector the company is developing a new strategic direction through diversification of products towards other markets.

Under the guidance of Gray’s academics, Josie Steed, Course Leader for Fashion and Textiles, Keith Gray, lecturer in Fashion Design and a KTP associate, the collaboration will provide Montrose Rope & Sail with support in luxury design-led markets, opportunities for routes to market and branding.

Neil Paton, Montrose Rope & Sail Managing Director, is looking forward to working with Gray’s as the company looks to embark on a new era.

“It is hoped that this project will develop, manufacture and brand a new range of products within the luxury high-end fashion accessories market, utilising our company’s heritage, existing expertise within manufacturing and our unique industrial range of products,” he said.

“Building on our strengths, our reputation for quality products and our ability to produce great handmade goods at our base in Angus, our continual investment in new machinery and manufacturing knowledge and skills, we want to reposition aspects of our brand within the luxury high-end market with a clear commercial objective – hopefully our linkup with Gray’s can help us achieve this.”

Josie added: “This is a really exciting project to be involved in and hopefully we can use our collective experience and expertise, coupled with some fresh ideas from our existing students, to deliver some really positive outcomes for Montrose Rope & Sail as they look to move in this new strategic direction.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme that has been helping businesses for the past 40 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base.

A KTP serves to meet a core strategic need and to identify innovative solutions to help that business grow. KTP often delivers significant increased profitability for business partners as a direct result of the partnership through improved quality and operations, increased sales and access to new markets.

The project is looking to appoint a KTP Associate Fashion, Accessories and/or Product Design