Surge of interest in Dawson, say administrators

Barrie's Burnfoot factory
Barrie's Burnfoot factory

ALMOST 200 parties are keen to take on local knitwear business Barrie after declaring initial interest in purchasing parent firm Dawson International.

Dawson’s main trading subsidiaries comprise Burnfoot-based Barrie and United States cashmere specialist Dawson Forte.

Legal firm KPMG was last week appointed administrator of Dawson’s UK business, but the American arm of the company is not in administration and continues to trade under the control of its directors.

The Hawick News has learned that close to 200 potential buyers have approached KPMG with a view to assuming control of Barrie and its 180-strong workforce.

Meanwhile, workers at Burnfoot have been assured by joint administrator Blair Nimmo that there is no set short-term timescale for a buyer to be found to stave off closure of the factory.

It was reported yesterday that employees were told by senior staff that should a buyer not be forthcoming by this time next month the factory would shut.

However, Mr Nimmo, of KPMG, told the Hawick News: “These claims are completely unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality.

“We continue to work with Dawson’s management and interested parties to secure a buyer for the business [Dawson International].”

Elsewhere, the GMB union, of which all 180 employees of Barrie are members, has said it will make strenuous efforts to ensure that the “highly skilled and dedicated workforce” in place at the Burnfoot plant stays in work.

Alex McLuckie, senior organiser for GMB Scotland, said: “The failure of Dawson International to get an agreement on the pension scheme meant that administration was always a threat. The decision to into administration has now been taken so the real fight to save the 180 jobs at Barrie Knitwear starts now.

“This is a profitable firm that returned a £1.1million pre-tax profit last year. It has a highly skilled and dedicated workforce delivering high quality goods.”

Mr McLuckie added: “If ever a group of workers deserved a future it is members working for Barrie and GMB will do everything we can to ensure these jobs are saved not just for today but for years to come.”

KPMG, through joint administrators Mr Nimmo and Gary Fraser, are continuing to trade the Barrie business while they seek a buyer of the business and assets as a going concern.

Among the major appeals of Barrie for potential buyers is a recent record of trading profitably. In the year ended 31 March 2012, Barrie turned over £9.7 million (approximately 90 per cent export sales) and generated a pre-tax profit of £1.1 million.

The future of the business was plunged into doubt in recent weeks as talks between Dawson and the Pension Protection Fund aimed at transferring responsibility for Dawson’s multi-million pound deficit in pension payments.