Cashmere firm goes back to the future

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A Borders textile company has gone back to the future with an ambitious £100,000 rebrand aimed at increasing its international foothold.

The Hawick Cashmere Company, which has 15 stores worldwide, unveiled its new name of “Hawico” at a special event for staff and buyers.

“Hawico” was the longstanding nickname of the Hawick Hosiery Company which was founded in 1874 and became the Hawick Cashmere Company in 1990.

Today, high-quality garments are still manufactured in the 19th-century mill which the company claims now has the most advanced knitting production plant in Europe.

“By embracing the name Hawico we are giving a nod to our heritage, while also highlighting our uniqueness,” said David Sanderson, the firm’s deputy chairman.

“The rebranding of all our stores in now complete and once our revamped website is ecommerce-ready next month, it will expose Hawico to more countries and a younger clientele who have the money to spend on luxury goods.

“Working with renowned fashion photographer Christian Ammann has helped us create stunning images showing Scottish cashmere at its best and arming our brand with a global appeal and uniformity. It’s an exciting time, but getting your head around spending £100k on machinery is much easier than investing it on more intangible things like photography, but everything we do must reflect the high quality of our product and that costs money.”

Mr Sanderson acknowledged the support his firm had received from Business Gateway Borders whose adviser Sandra Campbell told us: “By working with us, Hawico was able to access funding [£30,000] through Scottish Development International [the international arm of Scottish Enterprise] to begin its comprehensive rebranding and market development strategy.

“We will continue to work with Hawico over the coming months to further develop new markets, both on and offline.”

Until recently, the company focused on selling directly to leading fashion houses and select stores. However, changing consumer behaviour has seen it alter the way it targets its customers.

“We began noticing a shift in buying patterns, so decided to open our own stores in cities where we knew there was a demand for luxury Scottish cashmere – like Tokyo, Zurich, and Beaver Creek in Colorado,” explained Mr Sanderson. “Now 80% of our sales are overseas.

“Our rebrand will help us sell part of Scotland’s rich heritage to the 21st-century global market.”