Knitwear deal good for jobs, says boss

JOBS at a Borders mill are said to be more secure after a deal was struck between bosses and one of the UK’s leading hosiery suppliers.

It has been confirmed that the RUIA Group has bought a 50 per cent share in Hawick Knitwear.

And mill chief Benny Hartop, 49, believes it will go a long way to safeguarding jobs at the firm’s Liddesdale Road factory.

Mr Hartop said his firm now had another important customer on board.

The hosiery experts have their headquarters in Bolton and among the brands under their wing are Glenmuir, Sunderland of Scotland, and Farrah.

Mr Hartop commented: “I guess they [RUIA Group], like many other companies, are starting to value the benefits of UK manufacturing. And they contacted me to discuss any potential opportunities for them with Hawick Knitwear.

“The main attraction for us in Hawick was the opportunity to work with other companies RUIA already own. For example, they have Glenmuir, which is a big golf brand and the potential is obviously there to gain orders with companies like that.”

And although Mr Hartop cautioned that they would be treating RUIA as any other customer, he revealed that his workforce, which stands at around 200, had been producing samples with a view to full-scale production in the near future.

Mr Hartop, who led a management buyout of Hawick Knitwear in 2010, confirmed the deal would not mean any changes at managerial level.

And on business at the moment he said: “We are absolutely flat out. We’re in a highly seasonal business ... if we could just get more production in the summer and less in the winter, it would be a much easier.”