Hawick’s textile industry has been dealt another body blow now a town firm with a history stretching back almost 150 years is about to close with the loss of 20 jobs.
Workers at Hawick Knitwear were given that bleak news at Tuesday lunchtime, and a 30-day consultation period has now been launched.
The Burnfoot Industrial Estate firm, established in 1874, has endured many challenges over the last decade.
The business, previously based in Liddesdale Road, was saved from the axe by a management buyout in 2010.
However, in January 2016 it went into administration with the loss of 123 jobs.
Later the same year, Lyber, a group formed by Hong Kong-based Artwell, bought some assets, the firm’s name and intellectual property, securing 32 jobs in the process.
At that time, then Scottish Government business minister Fergus Ewing called it “great news for Hawick and the textile industry in the Borders”, adding: “The sale is testament to the quality of the product and the demand for knitwear from this part of Scotland.”
“While the number of staff is expected to be lower than previously employed at Hawick Knitwear, I am pleased that operations will continue.”
Now, however, it seems the firm’s long and proud history is almost over.
No one from the company was available for comment.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall, a former Hawick Knitwear employee, has reached out to its current staff to offer support.
He said: “I’m absolutely shattered to have been informed of this news and immediately went up to visit employees when they were told that they were now entering a 30-day consultation period by a company representative on Tuesday .
“I have offered support in whatever way I can to the 20-strong workforce.
“It’s a very difficult situation, and I feel a deep sense of personal sadness for all of the employees at Hawick Knitwear as I know nearly all of them personally, having worked for the company myself when it was previously located at the Liddesdale Road end of our town.
“I am keeping my fingers and everything else crossed that other knitwear companies in the town will absorb the impact and re-employ all of those affected.
“This company was very fortunate to have employed some of the most highly skilled workers in our town, and it really is such a sad day for both Hawick and the industry in general.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson, another former textile worker, added: “It’s 20 wage-packets out of the local economy.
“It’s an absolute shocker yet again for more Hawick families.
“Hopefully, all of these workers can find alternative jobs in the textile industry in Hawick because it would be a shame if these hard-working employees’ skills are lost.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “We are saddened to hear this news.
“This will be an incredibly difficult time for employees at Hawick Knitwear.
“Scottish Borders Council, along with Scottish Enterprise, will do all we can to offer support.”