Warm work as knitwear company’s output surges

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a WELCOME boost in orders has meant specialist company Hawick Knitwear has had to increase its production.

The Liddesdale Road-based firm is now turning out 9,500 garments a week, up from around 7,500 last year, after a surge in demand from home and abroad.

One of the largest knitwear firms in the UK with a workforce of more than 230 people, the company has announced a 20 per cent jump in its turnover to £8million in the year to March 31.

It is the Hawick Knitwear-branded range, launched in January, which is behind the increase in business. Sales of garments from the range have outstripped the expectations of company bosses.

The company makes classic and contemporary knitwear for men and women, and its longer-established business is supplying garments to customers to sell under their own labels. Demand here has also increased.

Hawick Knitwear garments are sold in across Europe from Sweden and Finland to Italy and Spain, and on the other side of the Atlantic in the United States Canada and Mexico, as well as Japan.

The company was bought by managing director, Benny Hartop, from the investment company Harris Watson in November.

Mr Hartop says one of the main contributory factors to the upsurge in business was the launch of the autumn 2011 branded knitwear range.

He told TheSouthern: “We are reaping the benefits of that and have also had good help from Scottish Enterprise. Without tempting fate, I think the knitwear industry in Hawick is bucking the trend when it comes to the current state of the economy.

“We are quoting mid-October for any new business and I think most other local firms will be the same. Everyone seems to be working flat out at the moment, which is an excellent position to be in.”

However, Mr Hartop did flag up one issue that looks certain to become more critical as time goes on. “We have an issue of an ageing workforce in the knitwear industry and we have to start looking at more ways of attracting younger people back into it,” he said.