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Emreco mounts challenge to classic knitwear labels

Mainstream womenswear brand Emreco will unveil a new classic knitwear sub-brand for autumn 11, to tap into the trend for heritage-inspired product.

The first Emreco Scotland 1926 collection will comprise seven knitwear styles, all made from machine-washable merino wool, milled in Italy. It is understood the garments will be knitted and made up in the Far East.

Emreco said it planned to grow the collection incrementally to about 12 pieces and compete against established British knitwear brands including Brora, Lochcarron of Scotland and John Smedley.

Emreco marketing manager Claire Carmichael said: “We would like to be known for excellence and we would like to be as big as John Smedley.”

Emreco Scotland 1926 is named after the year Emreco was founded and will be the third collection in the Emreco stable. Its eponymous mainline comprises about 160 “quirky” womenswear pieces and is stocked by nearly 700 indies in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The group’s other brand, Chianti, has between 300 and 400 stockists and offers more occasionwear. All three brands are targeted at women aged 40 and above, but Carmichael said Emreco Scotland 1926 would be “more about a style of dressing, than a particular demographic”.

Wholesale prices for Emreco Scotland 1926 will range from £17.95 to £24, with a recommended average mark-up of 2.85, on a par with the other Emreco brands. The garments will be available in sizes 10 to 22 and include round and V-neck cardigans and jumpers, as well as polo necks and collared sweaters.

Carmichael said: “We’ve been going for such a long time and we have always been specialists in the classic knitwear sector, but under our other labels we tend to be more quirky and up to date. We saw an opportunity in the market to do a heritage brand, using all the skills we have built up as a company to [produce] a really classic product.

“It’s never going to be 120 or 160 pieces but we would hope to build it up to about 10 or 12 styles.”

Carmichael added that Emreco had invested “considerably” in the new brand, both financially and in terms of sourcing “the perfect yarn”.

According to documents filed at Companies House, Emreco International’s sales slipped 6% in the year to 24 March 2010, down from £5.1m to £4.8m. However, it turned its operating loss of £261,000 the previous year into an operating profit of £196,000 over the period. Pre-tax profit was £153,000 during the period compared with a £179,000 operating loss the year before.

The family-owned business has its head office in Glasgow.

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