More than 20 jobs set to go at Hawick textile mill

More than 20 staff at Johnstons of Elgin’s Hawick cashmere mill face losing their jobs as the coronavirus crisis continues to take its toll on economies worldwide.

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 3:20 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 3:36 pm
Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick.

Up to 23 workers at the Moray-based firm’s Mansfield Road mill and satellite sites in Innerleithen and Walkerburn are set to be made redundant by the end of October as part of a restructuring exercise costing 131 jobs company-wide.

That headcount cut accounts for more than a tenth of the 222-year-old company’s workforce of about 1,000 worldwide and just short of one in 13 of its 294 staff in the Borders, 269 of them based in Hawick and the other 25 in Innerleithen.

Consultation with the scores of staff affected is now getting under way.

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A spokesperson for the firm said: “Johnstons of Elgin has announced that it will restructure its business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and will begin a collective consultation with staff this month.

“While the firm will do its utmost to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies across the business, up to 23 roles at the Hawick mill and its Innerleithen site will be affected and job losses are also expected within the retail operations in the company’s sites across the UK.

“The majority of losses are expected to be at the company’s other large manufacturing site and head office in Elgin.

“The process is planned to conclude in October.”

Chief executive officer Simon Cotton added: “While Johnstons of Elgin has strong long-term prospects, to meet the significant short and medium-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are restructuring the business.

“This reflects the new realities we are facing, with stores in most of our markets around the world having been closed for several months and now faced with reducing high stock levels.

“Our community in Hawick is at the heart of our business, as well as the incredible skills and capabilities of our team, therefore this is not a decision we have taken lightly, but out of necessity to protect the long-term health of the business.

“We will do everything within our power to mitigate the number of redundancies, but we know that this will be an unsettling time for our workforce, and our intention is to manage this process quickly and fairly.

“Our priority will be to maintain our exceptional skills and capabilities so that we can build on these in the future as the situation starts to improve again.”

Founded in 1797, Johnstons of Elgin is one of the last few vertical mills in the UK still processing raw cashmere and fine woollen fibres and selling the finished product.

After shutting in March as part of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, its Hawick shop reopened in June and its cafe followed suit last month.