A director of Brandish Bute - the initiative set up to market and sell arts and crafts made on the island, in a shop in Rothesay and online - has denied the operation is shutting down.
A notice on the front door of the Brandish Bute shop in the town’s East Princes Street tells customers the premises are shut “until further notice”, while our attention has also been drawn to a post on Facebook speculating that the business might be closing - and claiming £60,000 was spent on a revamp of their website.
But Sara Goss-Melvin, one of the two directors of Brandish Bute, which itself is a subsidiary of the Bute Community Land Company, said the operation was not closing down - although some changes could be in the pipeline.
“I don’t want to get into a Facebook fight,” she told The Buteman, “but the facts are that Peter [Vincent, Brandish Bute’s other director] and I had a look at the books recently, and in our last trading year we turned over little more than £17,000.
“That doesn’t make us enough profit to be able to pay a member of staff - in fact it would only just cover rent, heating and lighting.
“Peter and I had a meeting with the one member of staff in December and we decided we just couldn’t afford to keep going.
“However, I’ve spoken to some of the producers whose work we sell, and explained the basic Brandish Bute financial situation, and I understand they are working on an alternative which would keep the shop open.”
Ms Goss-Melvin also hit back at the perception that Brandish Bute was being kept afloat by large public subsidies.
“We haven’t had any funding since the end of 2011 [when Charles Dixon-Spain’s term as marketing manager ended],” she continued.
“We never applied for any funding last year - we decided to go with what we had, on a wing and a prayer, and at present having a full-time member of staff just doesn’t work.”
Meanwhile Mhairi Mackenzie, who is renting the back office space at the Brandish Bute shop for her Bonnie Bling manufacturing business, which turns Scottish words and phrases into eye-catching acrylic jewellery, and was also responsible for improving the Brandish Bute website last year, said claims of a £60,000 spend on the web revamp were incorrect.
“That’s just not true,” she said. “The sum was £1,000 - if that - and it was paid for privately.”