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Speaking during a visit to Barrie Knitwear in Hawick, the First Minister confirmed that Cabinet Secretary for Finance will host a round table meeting with the Borders textile industry to discuss how the Scottish Government and its agencies can help its export growth in expanding markets such the Far East as well as examining other opportunities such as textile tourism.
The meeting, which will bring together industry players alongside SDI, Scottish Borders Council, the Federation of Small Businesses, Chambers of Commerce and training providers, will examine ways to offer further support to a sector that had exports totalling £590 million in 2011 and currently employs more than 10,000 people.
The meeting comes days after global business advisers Ernst & Young forecast that Scotland’s total exports would achieve 2 per cent growth by 2017, outstripping the rest of the UK as a whole with significant growth opportunities identified in the Far East markets.
The First Minister said Barrie Knitwear was an excellent example of a local Scottish firm making waves on the global stage, having sealed its 25-year association with Chanel last year with a takeover by the fashion giant.
The First Minister, who is in Hawick for the second of this year’s Scottish Government summer cabinets, praised the innovation shown by the firm, which alongside the exceptional quality of their garments, had ensured the success of the business in tough economic times.
The First Minister said he hoped the summit would give other firms the opportunity to look to the example of Barrie Knitwear and use the fantastic reputation Scottish knitwear has across the world to expand to new markets and ensure a bright future for the industry.
The First Minister said, “The textiles industry – both in the Borders and elsewhere in the country – has made and continues to make a massive contribution to Scotland, with huge demand in markets all across the world for the garments of unrivalled quality the sector produces.
“Borders knitwear is a vital part of that success story, with world class craftsmanship playing its part in an export business that was worth £590 million in 2011 in an industry that currently employs more than 10,000 across the country.
“Knitwear manufactured elsewhere may be cheaper, but nowhere else on this planet has the same brand reputation for quality as the Scottish garments, a large proportion of which are produced here in the Borders using the hand skills passed down through the generations.
“Massive fashion houses such as Chanel have recognised that, and I believe there is a bright future for textiles in this country, with a new focus on the opportunities presented by the expanding markets of the Far East and the Borders Rail set to bring thousands of tourists to the region.
"I am therefore delighted to confirm that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance will lead a ministerial round-table this week with representatives of the industry, commerce, education and the local council to discuss how the Scottish Government and its agencies can do more to help the sector make the most of the estimated £81 billion global market.”
The First Minister added, “There is no better example of the innovation and quality in the industry than Barrie Knitwear, which was bought by fashion giants Chanel last year in a deal that is a significant validation of the hard work of the employees here and will ensure that Scottish knitwear remains at the heart of high fashion in Europe and elsewhere.”
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