Grahame ratchets up pressure on Pringle

SOUTH of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame is turning up the heat on Pringle by demanding that the firm is forced to sever all links with Hawick's skilled workforce.

The Nationalist member has issued a stern warning to Pringle, that since it has opted to cease manufacturing Hawick's world-renowned brand in the town, it should be stripped of any connection to its 187-year heritage.

Speaking to the Hawick News, Ms Grahame asserted: "Pringle should not be allowed to make continued profits from its association with Scotland or the emblems of Scotland, which were associated with the quality work and experience of workers in Hawick.

"They seem determined to leave, so by demanding they remove the lion rampant from their product lines, we ensure they will not leave the town with their heads held up, but with their tails between their legs."

As part of that bid, Ms Grahame has asked the UK Intellectual Property Office, which is the government body responsible for patents, trademarks and copyright, to review Pringle's reference to Scotland.

And yesterday, a spokeswoman for UK-IPO said that Ms Grahame may have a case. She said: "Whether Pringle change their logo is really an issue for them. Their trademarks/logo may or may not be registered. If registered, and someone considers them to be deceptive (eg, as to geographical origin) then this could give grounds for invalidity.

"But to be considered deceptive, a registered trade mark has to concretely affect the economic behaviour of the consumer and not merely send out some vague promise or connection."

A Pringle spokesperson declined to comment on Ms Grahame's demands, but went on to say that there would still be a "significant" number of people employed in Hawick. "There are still 30 other employees employed locally, including head office, finance, sourcing and customer services," he said. "And the company makes it clear that if manufacturing does cease in Hawick, it will hopefully still place orders in Scotland."

GMB union official Christina Clark confirmed yesterday that Pringle was pressing ahead with the closure of manufacturing operations in Hawick with the loss of 80 jobs, and that despite requests for the firm to consider its options, Pringle was "not coming up with any alternatives".

She said: "They say that due to the lack of an order book and losses over a number of years, they will not change their position."

Ms Clark also revealed that Pringle was "not prepared" to improve the workforce's enhanced redundancy payments. And added that PACE scheme staff for active continued employment were expected at Glebe Mill as soon as it was "appropriate" to be on site.

She continued: "I am extremely disappointed and would liked to have seen a much better result."

The GMB Union is also concerned that Pringle will still be able to trade as a Scottish brand while moving production offshore.

Ms Clark added: "We are not happy with Pringle continuing to use 'Made in Scotland' and think it is something to be looked at on a wider scale. The company says that Fang owns the firm and the license, and that they have been challenged on this before and are doing nothing wrong."

The Hawick News can also reveal that the Pringle shop is to remain open at Glebe Mill.