Hawick Knitwear – time for a buyout?

Hawick KnitwearLast week the flood hit town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders was dealt another devastating blow as 123 people were laid off from the iconic Hawick Knitwear. The firm, which traces its roots back 140 years, has now gone into administration and a frantic effort is underway to find a buyer and save the remaining 56 jobs.

But I can’t help wondering whether the right buyer might be the workers themselves and indeed the wider community. Employee buyouts and particularly community buyouts are increasingly common. Often funded through a mix of local fundraising, the sale of shares and grants from local and national funding bodies, such buyouts put control of local assets firmly in the hands of local people.

And who better to steer the company through turbulent times than the folk who’ve worked to build it and sustain it?

The Scottish Green Party has campaigned for such buyouts to become easier and more common and we were successful in steering the SNP Government towards improving their Community Empowerment Bill on these very issues. It is my hope that these ideas can swiftly be put into action  by the people of Hawick and I offer my support in securing a bright future for the Hawick Knitwear and its workers.

3 thoughts on “Hawick Knitwear – time for a buyout?

  1. Leys hope jawick knitwear is bought by a company that wants to manufacture !my worry would be a established brand purchases the company just for the brand names of clan douglas and hawick .They could then sell thes labels on cheap poor quality imported knitwear such as the rubbish we find in the woolen mills all over scotland .Cheap impoted jumpers labeled up as Clan Douglas of scotland ,Hawick Knitwear of Scotland .With no manufacturing in sxotlan wjay so ever !

  2. I have worked all my life in the knitwear business,Pringle of Scotland.Ballantynes.then finally Hawick Knitwear.Everytime something went wrong I always said the workers could run it better themselves,so what you are suggesting might not be so daft after all.

  3. George Thorburn Just read this in the link regarding foreign buyers.It suggests that a foreign buyer is already lined up. It wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t a company in the RUAI group or linked to them.Administrators KPMG now hope to save the remaining jobs at Hawick Knitwear by finding a buyer and troubleshooter Blair Nimmo tells The National that they have cast their net far and wide across the globe.

    Nimmo, KPMG head of restructuring in Scotland, who has 30 years’ experience in working with insolvencies in the Scottish textile industry, said they were doing everything in their power to attract a buyer.

    He added: “We have got to be realistic. It is tough. I’ve worked 30 years in this space, I’ve worked a lot of that time in the textile industry in the Borders and it has often surprised me just when you think you’ve got something that might not be the most attractive and somebody does come out of the woodwork who sees an opportunity.

    “We have 140-year trading history here, a very loyal and highly skilled workforce and great products. There will be people showing interest.

    “At least in this current circumstance they have the potential to buy a clean asset, effectively a new business and to some extent they can cherry pick what they want.

    “They have still got the Hawick and Clan Douglas brand so at the end of the day, it may be somebody wants to buy it in a much smaller, slimmed down fashion and they can see potential. Maybe it’s an existing trade player.

    “I have seen that in the past that we have had interest from China and America and other parts of the world. What they get access to is 140 years of trading history, product knowledge, skill expertise and a loyal workforce and maybe they’ve got the finance that would allow them to invest in establishing these brands in a major way which would allow them to operate in their own right.”

    He said there had already been interest in the firm since the announcement of the collapse last week.
    Like · Reply · 22 mins
    George Thorburn
    George Thorburn The workers/local residents buying the business from the administrator sounds great but is altruistic and unlikely to happen. The people concerned would need to have a substantial financial partner to broker the deal and satisfy the banks that a profitable company will be the result. It is necessary to find out why the business failed; why the administrators were called in and who the debtors are. From what I have seen so far, the parent company RUIA Holdings Ltd owned by an Indian family have at least £1.2 million invested and it would not surprise me that they hold a debenture and/or preference shares which means that they must get that money back on any sale and they are going to get £1.2 million before any other creditor gets a penny.RUIA own other textile, woolen and clothing businesses and it would be cheaper for them to buy the firm outright from the administrator for £1.00 and guarantee certain debts including their own. They would then have a lean business with all assets intact; all customer details etc intact, 123 less work force and no bad debts. The workers who want to be involved in a buy out would have to put up a plan to show that they can create and run a profitable business.With only 5% of sales being export sales, it would appear that export sales should be at least 50% or more. This would have to be addressed by the buy out consortium. I would like to see a buy out involving the workers and locals BUT I am not confident that the above issues can be satisfactorily addressed.

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