Hawick’s hard-hit textile industry has received a massive pick-me-up in the form of plans for the rebirth of a former town mill, creating 20 jobs.
The old Langlands Mill site has been acquired by 1881 J&D McGeorge with the aim of reviving one of Scotland’s oldest luxury cashmere brands.
The firm plans to bring the property back to its original use as a textile mill by spring next year.
A spokesman for the firm said it was delighted to be reviving the McGeorge of Scotland knitwear brand, saying it will be aimed at “top-end couture houses around the world”.
The announcement is a huge fillip to Hawick’s economy following the loss of skilled jobs at the Peter Scott and Pringle knitwear firms.
Now, some of those staff, with expertise in working with fine fibres such as cashmere, have the chance of a fresh start at Langlands Mill.
The Langlands Road factory closed 20 years ago and was sold recently for in the region of £190,000.
The move is being supported by Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Development International (SDI).
Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development at the council, said: “Knitwear manufacturing still plays a key role in our local economy and is an important part of our approach to inclusive growth.
“It is great news for Hawick that this textiles inward investment is being made just now, and I hope that the excellent work that Scottish Development International does in encouraging companies to invest in Scotland can stimulate further capital investment and jobs in a sector which is such an important part of our heritage.
“This business investment powerfully demonstrates the provenance, skills and high-quality product that is available in Hawick and which makes it an excellent inward investment location.”
The spokesperson for 1881 J&D McGeorge said: “We are delighted to revive this brand in Scotland, where we will make the best-quality cashmere for McGeorge of Scotland to be sold to top-end couture houses around the world.”
SDI managing director Paul Lewis said: “Today’s announcement is good news for Scotland’s textile sector and reinforces our worldwide reputation as a textile producer with a proud heritage and an enduring place on the world’s fashion stage.”
Hawick honorary provost Stuart Marshall has, along with fellow Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer, been in talks with the investors behind the scheme for some time, and he described the news as a “shot in the arm” for Hawick.
He said: “To learn that such a world-famous knitwear brand is coming to the town is just fantastic.
“I think that one of the deciding factors when choosing our town must have surely been that Hawick is not only the home of cashmere, but it is also home to the most highly-skilled workforce when it comes to producing quality knitwear, and to bring a derelict building back to life at the same time is just the icing on the cake.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith, a council executive member, added: “This is absolutely a good news story for the town.
“Once again the focus is on high quality, and the town’s reputation as the true centre for quality design and production has now led to a long-established and respected name creating jobs for our community.
“The local knitwear businesses which specialise in the upper end of the market have shown that this is the way to go. I am convinced that this trend will continue.”
The J&D McGeorge brand has its history in Dumfries, formerly running a mill in the town’s St Michael Street until the early 1990s.