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Business correspondent Hayley Millar
"The strategy has been to move the brand into the top end of the market"
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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 09:13 GMT
Pringle joins the fashion elite
Pringle clothes
Pringle has moved to rebrand its image
A Scottish textile company has swapped the fairway for the catwalk to return to the world of high fashion.

For years, the traditional diamond and lion motif of Pringle of Scotland was associated with golf enthusiasts rather than trend-setters.

But the brand is now more likely to be sported by Robbie Williams and David Beckham than the likes of Nick Faldo.

We are really working with all the right retailers that have the right environment to promote luxurious brands

Kim Winser, Pringle
That is all part of the company's efforts to rebrand itself as a "high fashion" product.

The sale of Pringle to Hong Kong-based Fang Brothers Knitting Ltd in a 10m deal last February led to 140 job losses at its Hawick and Galashiels factories.

But the workforce at the Hawick plant is expanding for the first time in years as it stages its comeback.

Kim Winser is the woman responsible for turning around the brand.

"We have walked away from over 100 retailers in the last year that we did not feel represented the new vision for the brand," she explained.

Job losses

"We are really working with all the right retailers that have the right environment to promote luxurious brands.

"We have definitely moved to being a more luxurious business."

That strategy is also being followed by other companies within the Scottish textile industry, which has been ravaged by job cuts in recent years.

In the four years to 1999, there were 6000 textile jobs lost in Scotland.

Textile machine
The textile industry has faced job cuts
And Scottish Enterprise Borders chief executive Jim McFarlane said firms could no longer to make hundreds and hundreds of the same garment.

"It is important that our companies understand the competitive pressures that they are facing," he said.

"They operate in high value markets where price is not the determining factor.

"They are offering an absolute specialism that is not available elsewhere."

He said cashmere was the largest employer in the textile industry.

Royal visit

"The whole emphasis of the work we have been doing with that sector has been to move more of them into high value, high fashion areas so that Scottish cashmere has a cachet in much the same way as Swiss watches and French champagne."

The Princess Royal will be in the Borders on Wednesday to see at first hand how Pringle has been transformed since it was sold by Dawson International.

During her visit, she will open a new learning centre which is intended to improve the skills of the company's 250 employees.

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Scotland
Quality stamp for Scottish cashmere
06 Jun 00 | Scotland
Cash aid for textiles industry
17 Feb 00 | Scotland
Textiles workers' plea for help
16 Sep 99 | Scotland
Union fears for Pringle jobs
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