Mill workers rocked by production axe

The Peter Scott factory in Buccleuch Street.
The Peter Scott factory in Buccleuch Street.

Hawick’s knitwear industry has been dealt another hammer blow with the news that Peter Scott is likely to cease production at its Buccleuch Street mill.

The Hawick News understands that 48 of the 63-strong workforce are at risk of redundancy, and the company, founded in 1878, admitted that the pay-offs could be necessary to safeguard its future.

Staff were left shellshocked yesterday, when four of the firm’s senior bosses, including managing director Daniel Kim, delivered news of the jobs blow.

It comes just six months after the company axed 20 workers due to “tough trading conditions”.

The firm denied rumours circulating in the town in November that it was to transfer its frame-knitting operation abroad. A Peter Scott spokesperson told us that the previous restructuring programme and ongoing sales performance had failed to produce the projected financial results.

And the majority of workers are now at risk of redundancy if a solution cannot be found to the current financial situation.

The spokesperson added: “Trading has remained difficult, and although there have been initial positive results, this has not provided sufficient increases of income to maintain current staffing levels.

“Therefore, the proposed job losses may become a necessary outcome to ensure the Peter Scott brand has a future in the golfing and high-street markets.

“In an attempt to avoid compulsory redundancies, the management will aim to meet with elected staff representatives during the consultation period in an effort to find a workable solution.”

Provost Stuart Marshall said the name of Peter Scott had been part of Hawick for nearly 140 years and for production to cease was shocking news and very hard to take in.

He added: “In recent years, we have seen many visits to this factory by the Scottish Government, and the summits have proved fruitless in respect of what assistance our town is receiving from Holyrood.

“The time for lip service is over, I’m afraid. It’s action and investment that we need to see in Hawick.”

Tory MSP John Lamont said his first priority was working to ensure that staff were supported during this difficult time, and he said he would be contacting the next enterprise minister as a matter of urgency.

“The Scottish Government must now take concrete action to support this fragile industry and the local economy,” he added.

SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse said the Government would do all it could to help, and he has asked for a multi-agency team to be activated to try to secure local jobs, if possible, and support employees at such a stressful time.

“I will do anything I can, alongside our local MP, Calum Kerr, to support the management and workforce and to try to achieve a positive outcome,” said Mr Wheelhouse.