HAWICK provost, Ron Smith, has spoken this week about the relief in the town, after news that French luxury fashion label Chanel had bought local cashmere mill, Barrie Knitwear.
TheSouthern reported details of the deal last week, and the intervening seven days has seen the news sink in that the jobs of 176 workers and a 140-year-old famous Hawick company have been saved for the future.
There had been months of worry for the 176 workers at Barrie’s mill in Burnfoot Industrial Estate, after the cashmere firm’s parent company, Dawson International, went into administration in August because of pension problems.
Speaking this week, Provost Smith, also a Lib Dem councillor for the Hawick & Hermitage ward, said he very much welcomed the news that Barrie’s long-time Paris-based customer had taken over ownership of the factory.
“This is a tremendous relief to the workers and for the town as a whole. It is also a tremendous compliment to the workforce that such an internationally known leader in the fashion world has confidence in the ability of those workers to provide top-quality products,” said Mr Smith.
“And ‘relief’ is the appropriate word to use. Over recent years, several local knitwear mills have carried through development plans, and there has been evidence of fresh external investment. Mr Smith continued: “This has been recognition of the inherent quality of the workforce and of the products.
“The expectation therefore in the town was that a profitable business such as Barrie would quickly be snapped up. That took a little while to be confirmed, but has been worth the wait, and the town is happy to be now publicly associated with such a flagship brand.”
The deal heralds an exciting new chapter in the history of the Hawick mill.
Local Lib Dem MP Michael Moore, who met with senior representatives from Chanel and Barrie on Thursday, said it brought months of uncertainty to an end for the company, its employees and the people of Hawick.
“I was pleased to hear of Chanel’s commitment to maintain the traditional expertise and craftsmanship which make Barrie such a unique and valued brand,” said Mr Moore.
“I look forward to Barrie flourishing under Chanel’s ownership and I will continue to work with the management and employees in this exciting new chapter for the company.”
Mr Moore’s comments were echoed by Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker (Leaderdale & Melrose Ind), who added: “Barrie has a worldwide reputation for quality and it is great news for Hawick that this has been recognised and that one of the world’s iconic brands has chosen to make this important investment, which will safeguard these much needed jobs.”