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Business News

Rescue in prospect for leading Scottish mill that supplies cashmere to Chanel

The Scottish wool supplier that makes cashmere for the French fashion house Chanel and Jermyn Street tailors is close to being rescued.

Barrie Knitwear, part of the collapsed Dawson International, is expected to be sold back to its management in a deal valuing the Hawick-based business at between £3m and £5m within a fortnight.

The management bid – led by Jim Carrie and Clive Brown, who have backing from an Edinburgh-based businessman – became favourites following the collapse of previous sales talks last month.

The company behind the US menswear chain Brooks Brothers – Italy's Claudio Del Vecchio's Retail Brand Alliance – had been in talks to buy the brand. The administrator, KPMG, had also held talks with US retailers, including the department store group Nordstrom, who had also been a customer, but these talks came to nothing.

Blair Nimmo, the head of restructuring at KPMG and joint administrator of Dawson International, would not comment on the identity of the new bidder but said: "Since our appointment as administrators we have worked hard to achieve a successful sale of the business. The sales process has taken a little longer than originally expected, which is due to the late withdrawal of the initial preferred bidder."

"We are pleased to report that we are now in advanced discussions with a new preferred bidder."

Dawson, which was listed on the Alternative Investment Market, collapsed into administration in August due to huge pension deficits thought to be in excess of £50m.

Supplying Chanel with cashmere makes up around 60 per cent of Barrie Knitwear's business. Chanel owed £800,000 at the time of Dawson's collapse and it is thought the French luxury goods company has played a close part in working with Barrie's management to secure a bid to rescue the business.

In the year to the end of March, Dawson turned over £9.7m, earning profits of £1.1m and had employed 180 people.