Plans to build a replacement knitwear factory in Hawick are expected to create five jobs, it has been revealed.
Scott and Charters, established back in 1955, has submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council to build the new factory on land adjacent to its existing plant in Fairhurst Drive, Burnfoot.
The company’s managing director, Malcolm Grant, said the expansion plan would help “re-establish Hawick as the go-to destination for luxury knitwear”, and it is expected to lead to its workforce increasing by five to 39, as well as creating opportunity for future growth.
The news provides the town’s troubled knitwear industry with a much-needed boost.
It comes after a tough year for the industry in 2016, with the closure of both Hawick Knitwear and the Peter Scott factory in Buccleuch Street.
But Mr Grant believes his company’s planned new factory will help reverse the industry’s recent downward trend.
He said: “Scott and Charters is proud and delighted to confirm that we are planning to build a new expanded factory on our existing Fairhurst Drive site.
“This exciting investment in the company will allow us to enhance the working environment for our very loyal workforce and allow us to grow the business in a steady and controlled manner.
“In addition, the newly-designed factory will make a huge improvement to the local environs.
“Hawick has always had a wonderful heritage of luxury knitwear which, through no fault of a very talented and willing townsfolk, has seen a decline over the past 25 years.
“Our intention is to bring more business back to the town and, together with other like-minded companies, work to re-establish Hawick as the go-to destination for luxury knitwear.”
The expansion plans were hailed as good news by Hawick and Denholm councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer.
Mr Marshall, also the town’s honorary provost, said: “I am delighted that the directors of Burnfoot’s very own Scott and Charters factory are now able to make public their exciting plans to build a new modern facility in Fairhurst Drive.
“Watson and I have been supporting the new owners and their executive team, including local managing director Malcolm Grant and director David Chapman, to bring forward plans that will see a new two-storey knitwear production unit built on the current site in Burnfoot.
“This represents a significant level of investment in our town and delivers a very clear message that Hawick and its skilled workforce remain in demand.”
Mr McAteer added: “The redevelopment of the factory is incredibly good news for the town and signals that quality knitwear production remains the key economic industry in Hawick and the Borders.
“Stuart Marshall and I have met with the owners and their project team and have offered our total support to ensure this exciting development progresses as soon as possible.
“A new-build factory on a traditional site in the heart of Burnfoot is the best possible way of demonstrating that Hawick is fighting hard for its future, creating new career opportunities for our townsfolk young and old.”
If planning approval is agreed, the existing site would operate while the new factory is being built and would then be flattened.
The company, employing more than 30 members of staff, was taken over by high-end London clothing company WRA, operator of a retail store in London’s Mayfair, in 2015.