ONE year on from a management buy-out, a Borders knitwear company has announced a doubling of production and proposals to take on 50 trainees during the next three years, writes Andrew Keddie.
Hawick Knitwear, based in the town’s Liddesdale Road, confirmed this week it had already engaged 15 new personnel in the first phase of that recruitment – out of 140 applications.
The firm was bought by Benny Hartop, formerly managing director of the firm when it was owned by private investment group Harris Watson, in November last year. And in April, it reported a 20 per cent increase in its turnover following a boost in orders which saw the workforce rise from 200 to 230.
The surge was put down to the January launch of its own-brand range of luxury garments and Mr Hartop acknowledged the support of Scottish Enterprise in his firm’s expansion.
This week, Mr Hartop revealed that, to cope with demand for the signature range, the Hawick factory had doubled its weekly production to 19,000 garments.
He told us: “Global demand for authentic, stylish, well-made, British products continues to increase with top-end consumer awareness at an all-time high. We continue to benefit from discerning consumers rejecting disposable fashion items from low-labour-cost countries in favour of buying authentic, British-made, luxury goods.
“Despite having to accept huge raw material price increases, we have had a busy year with branded range sales taking off and private label business up as well.
“It is fantastic to be able to give 50 people the chance to join our industry. We wouldn’t make the decision to increase our workforce if we weren’t confident there was a growing global market for the sort of luxury knitwear we provide.”
Hawick Knitwear now boasts over 14 agents across 12 countries who will continue to grow product demand in export markets.
Cathy Black, head of textiles at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is great news for the Scottish textiles industry.
“The fact that Hawick Knitwear is providing employment for 50 trainees over the next three years is a testament to the continued growth in the industry.
“Recently, we have witnessed even more customers coming to Scotland for textiles as they know they are guaranteed quality, luxurious products. ‘Made in Scotland’ continues to be a coveted label across the world.”