Hawick Knitwear announced 14 pay-offs on Monday morning – bringing the total laid off at the Liddesdale Road factory in the last eight months to 22.
A senior manager broke down in tears as he made the annoncement to stunned staff, and one worker, speaking to the Hawick News, described the current situation at the mill as “grim”. But despite the bad news, managing director Benny Hartop is claiming the company has a strong order book, and this week they invested a six-figure sum in two new shima machines to help cope with demand.
Mr Hartop also revealed that seven jobs are going on the production side of the business and will include one frameworker with the same amount coming from the yarnstore, supervisors and admin staff. He also said there are no plans for further redundancies.
In a statement to the Hawick News, Mr Hartop said: “Our 2015 order book has highlighted lower levels of demand for our traditional 15-gauge plain lambswool products from many of our ‘contract’ customers.
“As a result of this decline, we have concluded that we have more capacity than we need in some areas of the business. Regrettably, this means that 14 jobs are under threat of redundancy.
Mr Hartop conceded that the latest pay-offs were “deeply disappointing” but that other areas of the business were “robust”.
And he added: “Looking ahead, our Shima order book is strong. We will take delivery of two new eight-needle Shima machines this week to increase our capacity in this key area. Our conventional link order book is also strong and once styles are approved by customers, several departments will be working additional hours.
“Our Hawick Knitwear brand sales have also grown by a further 15 per cent in the last financial year and I am confident that our investment in our own brand knitwear will allow the business to recover strongly from this news.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull told the Hawick News: “This is disappointing news indeed and especially so for those who are being made redundant.
“It appears that some factories are at bursting point while others are feeling market pressures and are having to reduce their overhead costs. I hope that Hawick Knitwear can recover from this glitch as quickly as possible.”
And fellow ward councillor Davie Paterson added: “This is an absolute tragedy, not only for the the workers who have lost their jobs, but also for the local economy. I hope they can secure other employment.”