JOHNSTONS is investing £1million and expanding its workforce with the creation of a state-of-the-art visitor centre, cafe and retail outlet in Hawick.
The local textile manufacturer has announced that building work has already begun on the ambitious project to renovate the ground floor of their Eastfield Mills site, which will not only create 15 new jobs – but also a modern new tourist attraction.
Director James Sugden said: “We opened a retail/visitor centre in Elgin some 25 years ago, much on the lines of a ‘mill shop’. But we have moved on from there and now have a luxury retail business of £5million attracting over 200,000 visitors each year. We aim to replicate this in Hawick.”
The 3,600 square feet visitor space will include an interpretive centre comprising a 20-minute video on cashmere production, focusing on Johnston’s carrying out every process from fibre to finished garment.
The shop will stock Johnstons knitwear, tweed, including cashmere and tweed jackets, and Johnstons accessories, as well as the new Home collection, featuring fabric for upholstery and curtains.
Mr Sugden added: “We are fortunate to work with some of the best retail organisations in the world, particularly those associated with the luxury textile industry. We now want to showcase some of these products in Hawick, where the tradition of ‘Made in Scotland’ is at its best. The signs on the roads leading into Hawick state ‘Home of Cashmere’ and we want to re-emphasise this fact.”
Mill tours will also be available to demonstrate the skills required in the manufacture of luxury cashmere products. The new cafe will focus on locally sourced foods and home baking.
And the mill boss concluded: “I am confident that this new centre will be a success and a long-term asset for both the company and the town of Hawick.”
Last year Johnstons of Elgin, which employs 250 workers in Hawick, recorded a turnover of £50 million.