South Scotland

Hawick Knitwear enters administration

Hawick Knitwear factory Image copyright Google
Image caption Hawick Knitwear is a major employer in the town

Historic Borders firm Hawick Knitwear has entered administration with the loss of more than 100 jobs.

KPMG confirmed they had been appointed as administrators at the request of the company's director.

It said that 123 staff had been made redundant with immediate effect, with a further 56 workers retained.

Administrators urged anyone who was interested in the company's business or assets to contact them "as soon as possible".

The company's manufacturing heritage dates back to 1874 but it has been experiencing "difficult trading conditions" in recent years due to increasing production costs and reducing margins.

Recent mild winters have also been blamed for reduced demand for heavier winter garments.

Attempts to secure new investment proved unsuccessful leaving the director with "no option" but to place the company into administration.

Administrators said they were "assessing all available options" to complete garments in progress and see whether an early sale of the business, brands, infrastructure and assets could be secured.

Analysis: Giancarlo Rinaldi, South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Anyone who knows the Borders knows how central the textiles industry has been and remains for the region.

It may not be the powerhouse it once was, but it is still a major employer in the area.

It has suffered a number of setbacks in recent years but this latest blow is a hugely significant one.

If no buyer can be found, then nearly 180 jobs will have been lost in a town with a population of about 14,000.

It means few locals will be untouched by news that a firm with a manufacturing tradition going back more than 140 years has entered administration.

Blair Nimmo, head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said: "Hawick Knitwear has an excellent reputation in the industry.

"The company benefits from its heritage and established infrastructure together with a developing brand and a highly-skilled workforce, which we believe will be an asset to prospective purchasers.

"Unfortunately, extremely difficult market conditions have led to the current position."

He said it was "regrettable" that a high level of redundancies had been necessary but said they would be working with employees and government agencies to ensure that the "full range of support" was available to those affected.

"In the meantime, we would encourage any party who has an interest in the company's business and assets to contact us as soon as possible," he added.

Image caption Business troubleshooter Lord Digby Jones visited the company two years ago to provide advice

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Calum Kerr described the news as "shattering for Hawick and the Borders".

He said he had contacted Scottish Enterprise to see what support it could provide and would also be speaking to administrators.

"I believe that real opportunities do exist for the business to succeed," he added.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont also described the announcement as "devastating news".

"It is a massive shock to lose such a well-respected and big name as Hawick Knitwear," he said.

He called on the Scottish government to do all it could to support those affected and is seeking an urgent meeting with administrators.

The Hawick firm has gone through some significant changes in recent years.

In 2008 and 2009 it announced two rounds of job cuts within a matter of months.

The following year it was the subject of a management takeover and, in 2012, Bolton-based Ruia Group purchased a 50% stake in the business.

Two years later business troubleshooter Lord Digby Jones was called in to give the firm advice on how to improve performance.

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