Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Knitwear hit by 'turbulent' times

The company said it was facing "turbulent" economic conditions

A Borders knitwear firm has said it "deeply regrets" making job cut plans just weeks after trading figures showed a rise in profits and turnover.

Barrie Knitwear has announced plans to make about 10% of its 163 staff at its base in Hawick redundant.

A spokesman said that despite recent successes the industry was experiencing "very turbulent economic conditions".

Borders MP Michael Moore said the news was part of a "worrying trend" for knitwear firms in the area.

It is the third such blow to the Scottish Borders in a little over a week - bringing about 80 job losses in total.

The government must remember that it is not just the big banks which need help during these difficult economic times
John Lamont MSP

Last week Hawick Knitwear announced plans to cut 32 jobs due to a reduction in orders.

Then this week it was confirmed Jedburgh Kiltmakers would close with the loss of 32 posts.

Andy Bartmess, chief executive of Dawson International which owns Barrie Knitwear, said the global economic downturn was to blame for the latest cuts.

"I deeply regret the need for redundancies, particularly in light of the excellent performance the business has delivered in recent years," he said.

"Despite our recent success in returning the group to profit, we are operating in very turbulent economic conditions and, as indicated in our preliminary results announcement, are likely to experience lower sales in 2009."

He said a "key contributor" to improved performance had been adapting to the changing market quickly.

"This is why we need to take action now to bring manufacturing into line with demand to protect the Barrie business going forward," he added.

Roxburgh MSP John Lamont said that after speaking with trade unions he feared that there might be more companies in the region who would also be making cuts.

Desperate announcement

He said: "Action must be taken quickly to ensure that the workers affected are given every possible assistance in seeking alternative employment.

"The government must remember that it is not just the big banks which need help during these difficult economic times."

Mr Moore said he was also concerned about the situation.

"This is another desperate announcement for Hawick and the surrounding area, which is part of a worrying trend," he said.

"Barrie continues to produce the highest quality knitwear and it must be given all appropriate support to secure its future.

"Right now the priority is to ensure that the individuals affected get the right assistance."

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