Scottish cashmere and woollen brand Johnstons of Elgin is to expand its operation in Hawick on the Scottish Borders with the opening a visitor centre, café and retail outlet at their Eastfield Mills site.
Building work has already started on phase one of the renovation of the building, which has involved a new mansard roof on part of the existing building, with substantial restructuring of the ground floor to create 3,600 sq ft of retail/visitor centre space.
The new facilities are expected to create 15 further jobs as well as safeguarding the 250 jobs already in existence at the factory.
Johnstons of Elgin director James Sugden said that the business aims to replicate the success of the visitor centre and shop at its Elgin site with the creation of the facility at the Hawick site.
“We opened a retail/visitor centre in Elgin some 25 years ago, much on the lines of a “mill shop”. But we have moved on from there and now have a luxury retail business of £5m attracting over 200,000 visitors to the Elgin site each year,” he said.
“We aim to replicate this in Hawick, and we feel that the town itself, with its rich trading history, has largely been undersold. I hope that this privately funded investment will help to put Hawick back on the map as a destination to visit.”
The shop is expected to stock Johnstons of Elgin knitwear, tweed products, including cashmere and tweed jackets for men and ladies, and Johnstons of Elgin accessories as well as the new Johnstons of Elgin Home collection, featuring fabric for upholstery and curtains.
Mill tours will also be available at the site to demonstrate the skills needed in manufacturing cashmere.
Last year Johnstons of Elgin, which manufactures cashmere products for luxury brands including Burberry and Louis Vuitton, recorded a turnover of £50m and employs a total of 750 staff across the Hawick and Elgin sites.