Knitwear is in the DNA of Hawick and staff at Barrie Knitwear in the town are excited to be part of a fast-developing regeneration of the industry in Scotland.

Barrie’s customers now include not only the Chanel and ‘Barrie’ brand but also Hermes and Thom Browne amongst many other new customers.

The big news for 2023 is that Chanel continue to demonstrate their commitment to production in the Scottish Borders by further investment in people, machinery, skills and expertise.

Jan Young (Barrie Knitwear Managing Director) said: ‘This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Chanel acquiring Barrie Knitwear and we are delighted to say that as our story of success continues to unfold, we are extremely excited about what is coming next.

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“All our customers see Hawick as the home of cashmere in the UK we are recognised for the quality and skill invested in the garments that are made here.

“We take our role in this community extremely seriously. We know that we impact not only the lives of our 270 employees, we also contribute to every one of their households and the wellbeing and security of their families.

“These are challenging times, but the future is bright for Barrie Knitwear, and we want to continue to share this success with all members of the Barrie Team.

“We are now embarking on a programme of unprecedented growth and our Hawick base is at the heart of this ambitious plan for the next 5yrs and beyond.

Border Telegraph: Staff at Barrie Kntwear in Hawick

Jan is aware of the pressures on households in the current economy and feels a personal responsibility for ensuring Barrie can not only sustain their place in the industry but go from strength to strength.

She continued: “This week we announced an 8% increase in base pay for all Barrie employees which comes on top of the 3% awarded in July.

“We have also applied the 2023 Real Living Wage rate of £10.90 per hour as a minimum for all operators who have completed basic training.

“We are also recognising the incredible heritage skills and knowledge our employees possess which differentiate them in the industry.

“To this end, we will be applying some additional, premium rates to recognise these skills to retain and attract the talent we need to achieve our growth ambitions.”

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Jan explained that she and her team want to be an employer of choice, offering the opportunity to develop skills & know-how in a company that has a Global presence and an assured future.

Flexible holidays are being trialled this year at Barrie alongside their newly introduced ‘Time off in Lieu’ policy.

She continued: “Our employees can now have greater flexibility for personal and family arrangements. We already offer a wide range of working patterns and appreciate that needs change over a lifetime, whether starting a family, caring for elderly relatives or working around school holidays.

“We are continuously looking for ways in which we can adapt to create flexibility whilst still delivering the highest customer service.”

When asked about their trainee programme Head of HR, Jo Tolland said that whilst the withdrawal of funding for the Centre of Excellence in 2022 was a disappointment to all knitwear manufacturers in the town, Barrie quickly transitioned all Trainee programmes into the main factory and are now making space for a new intake.

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She said: “We have had 8 new Trainees joining us during past week and we are very excited about the enthusiasm and talent of this new intake.

“We have an incredibly talented group of people working for us at Barrie, but we can never be complacent. We are looking to the future and know that to ensure our success, we must invest in young people today whilst benefitting from the support of the highly skilled and experienced staff inhouse who readily share their valuable know-how and skills.”

However, investment in hand-skills in not their only focus right now with five new roles in their Development team being filled through a current recruitment drive.

As Clive Brown, Director of Development & Commercial at Barrie said, “We have always maintained excellent links with Heriot Watt, Glasgow School of Art and other Higher Education providers who continue to support the Textile industry in Scotland.

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“In the past 3-4yrs we have employed over 10 Graduates through these links and we have opportunities for at least 5 more graduates to join the team this year. For the first year we also have two interhouse placement opportunities in Paris with the Barrie studio team for (3-6) months – it really doesn’t get much better than that for young people in the textile industry and these are the kind of unique career opportunities Barrie can offer.”