PARIS – French luxury house Chanel announced Tuesday it has acquired the under-threat Scottish cashmere manufacturer Barrie Knitwear, securing the jobs of the firm’s 176 employees.
The 140-year-old Scottish-borders based firm, which produces Chanel’s iconic two-tone cashmere cardigans, is a trading division of textiles firm Dawson International Trading Ltd, which was placed in administration in August.
“We have been working with them for more than 25 years and there was a risk that the firm could disappear,” the head of Chanel’s fashion division Bruno Pavlovsky told AFP.
“It made sense to be able to keep working with such extraordinarily competent people.”
The acquisition “secures the jobs of all 176 employees and safeguards a historic brand,” Chanel said in a statement.
Based in Hawick, where it produces 20,000 to 25,000 pieces for around 100 clients worldwide, the firm will continue to be run by its current management team and will be able to uphold all existing contracts without exclusivity.
Barrie Knitwear “was under threat of disappearing not because it is not working, but it was caught up in the problems facing Dawson”, which are linked to the financing of pensions at the group, Pavlovksy said.
“The company is one of the last in Scotland that is capable of producing sophisticated wares to display on the catwalks, and then to manufacture them.”
Barrie Knitwear is the second foreign firm to be acquired by Chanel, following the Italian shoemaker Roveda.
Since 1985, Chanel has bought nine high-end craft firms through its subsidiary Paraffection, including the embroiderer Lesage, bootmaker Massaro, hatmaker Michel and last September the glovemaker Causse.