Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Knitwear job cuts 'devastating'

The company is one of the UK's biggest knitwear manufacturers

One of the UK's largest knitwear manufacturers has announced 36 redundancies at its Borders base.

Hawick Knitwear, which specialises in cashmere and lambswool, can trace its history in the town back 134 years.

Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont described the news as a "devastating blow" for Hawick.

The company blamed the slowdown in consumer spending, rising energy costs and the impact of minimum wage requirements for the move.

The announcement comes less than a year after a 100,000 deal designed to create 30 new jobs at the firm.

Managing director Benny Hartop said he was disappointed to have to enter consultation over job cuts.

"I very much regret the need to take this action, but in order to safeguard the future of our business and the livelihoods of our remaining 222 employees, it has been necessary," he said.

"We shall, of course, do all that we can to assist those employees affected in finding alternative employment."

'Further uncertainty'

Mr Lamont said he had been in contact with Hawick Knitwear's management to discuss the situation.

He said he was aware it was not a decision which had been "taken lightly".

He added: "The closure of the Pringle factory earlier this year was a huge blow to the town and this announcement will lead to further uncertainty throughout the whole sector.

"My most immediate concern is for the workers and their families who will be affected by these redundancies.

"I understand the redundancies will be made across all departments but, from a workforce of just over 200, these 36 redundancies represent a significant blow."

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