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Hawick - A fresh tranche of funding has opened the door for Scottish knitwear firm Hawico to upgrade its existing knitting room with the funds earmarked for some of the latest technology from Japanese flat knitting machine builder, Shima Seiki.

The luxury cashmere brand runs almost all its plant in the Scottish borders on Shima's WHOLEGARMENT technology.

The latest funding from HSBC - a £248,000 equipment finance loan - will be used to help grow its product line and design capabilities.

The new machines are expected to replace older models, enabling Hawico to speed up production, reduce material waste and experiment with new patterns to expand product ranges.

Ewan Thomson, director at Hawico told The Herald: “We pride ourselves on the fact that we are able to make cashmere garments that are wholly Scottish from start to finish. By providing access to new technology, we’re also hoping to encourage younger generations to enter the textiles industry.”

Located on the banks of the River Teviot in Hawick, the original company was formed in 1991 when it bought the former Hawico knitwear company, which had been in operation since 1874. Operated by two families, the Thomson's and the Sanderson's, Hawick Cashmere then embarked on a campaign aimed at re-defining the traditional image of Scottish knitwear with significant investments in the latest knitting technology and a foray into the high-end retail sector.

Collections from the family-owned manufacturing and retail company are currently in more than 200 speciality stores, including a growing number in Japan where there is a traditionally strong demand for luxury, fine gauge Scottish knitwear.

In 1991, the knitting room was predominantly full of Cotton’s frame machines. However, the decision was taken to invest heavily in the manufacturing side of the business and Hawick Cashmere, as it was then, embarked on a long-term collaboration with Shima Seiki. Over the course of the 30-year relationship, the knitting room has evolved, along with Shima Seiki's help, with the company installing each series of the latest knitting machines as they became available available, a strategy which has culminated in what is now regarded as the most innovative and advanced knitting room in the country.

Hawico was one of the first Scottish companies to invest in Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT technology and it now has more than 25 WholeGarment machines including nine SWG-173X machines in 12G and two SWG-173X in 8G. It has 15G capability in the form of SWG-X WholeGarment machines while the most recent investments include two of the latest MACH2X153 models in a superfine 18G.

It has stores in Milan, London, Baden-Baden, Zurich, St Moritz and Geneva as well as Gleneagles, Edinburgh, Kelso and its home town of Hawick where it is one of the few remaining manufacturers of knitwear goods that was formerly a major industry in the Scottish Borders.

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