Borders knitwear company announces £4.9m loss

Huge losses for the company
Huge losses for the company

A knitwear firm founded in Hawick over 200 years ago has announced a loss of £4.9m for the year up to the end of January.

Pringle of Scotland has now been running at a loss for 11 consecutive years, and parent company Pringle Enterprises had to inject another £5m into the business in 2017.

Pringle started out in Hawick in 1815 and grew to become one of the most iconic luxury knitwear brands in the world.

The company closed its manufacturing plant in Hawick in 2008, following on from its takeover eight years previously by Hong Kong-based SC Fang and Sons, and production was moved overseas, in large part to northern Italy.

However, its famous woollen jumpers, favoured by generations of golfers including Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie, as well as celebrities such as Madonna and Scarlett Johannson, are still branded as Pringle of Scotland and the company continues to run a retail outlet in Hawick’s Victoria Road.

Accounts show sales rose 16% to just over £5m last year although the cost of sales also rose 35% to £2.3m, leaving a gross profit of £2.7m.

Administrative expenses, though down by more than 2% on the prior year, still outstripped total sales at £7.5m, resulting in an operating loss of just under £4.9m.

A company spokesman said the continued losses are the result of global brand investment and the directors do not envisage the firm reporting an operating profit “in the short term”.

The spokesman said the company was “satisfied” with the progress of the brand’s development, saying it is “in line with long-term strategic objectives”.

Pringle of Scotland employed 60 staff in the year to January 2017, down from 62 the prior year.

The company was founded by Robert Pringle in Hawick in 1815, initially producing hosiery and underwear, though it moved on to manufacturing the cashmere products it is now best known for in the 1870s.

Pringle of Scotland, awarded a royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956, was acquired by Joseph Dawson (Holdings), later renamed Dawson International, in 1967, before being sold on to SC Fang and Sons 17 years ago.