Pringle sale cramps style of cashmere

Hilary Clarke reports on the fears of Scottish producers of the luxury fibre

CASHMERE was a hit again on the catwalks of New York last week, but the brand most associated with the luxury fibre in Britain, Pringle, came under the spotlight for a different reason.

Edinburgh-based Dawson International hopes to cash in on the acquisitive appetites of international luxury goods companies like Gucci and LVMH by putting its ailing Pringle brand up for sale.

Dawson hopes the brand, which industry insiders say could now be worth as little as pounds 5m, will raise the necessary capital for it to invest in its other cashmere businesses. In fact, Dawson has been quietly winding down Pringle's cashmere products and the bulk of its sweaters are now in lamb's wool - although the fortunes of the famous diamond-patterned v-necks have also suffered.

Even so, manufacturers of cashmere knitwear around the Scottish border town of Hawick are concerned that the publicity surrounding Pringle's sale will cast a further cloud over smaller manufacturers of the luxury fibre.

This is despite a dramatic fall in the price of cashmere wool and the adoption of lines in the luxury wool by mid-market US international clothing retailers like The Gap and Banana Republic.

Scottish manufacturers have, along with cashmere goat farmers in the Third World, been hit by the recent trade spat between the European Union and the US. The US threatened to impose punitive trade sanctions on a series of European luxury goods items, including Scottish cashmere, because of a dispute over the EU's regime in the international trade of bananas. The industry has also suffered from the crisis in the Asian economies, which took a heavy toll on the luxury goods sector, and the rise in sterling, which has made British cashmere goods expensive in Europe.

"It is easy to tar Hawick with one brush, but in Hawick there are a number of companies which specialise in producing cashmere sweaters. Despite difficult market conditions and a strong pound, we, for one, are in good health," said David Sanderson, deputy managing director of the Hawick Cashmere Company, which makes sweaters for international designers such as Calvin Klein and Celine.

He said small specialist cashmere companies had gained an edge because they have adopted the latest knitting technology. The Hawick Cashmere Company has recently expanded its factory and has just opened a shop in Geneva.

Dawson wants to use the money raised from the Pringle sale to invest in its core cashmere businesses such as Ballantyne Cashmere and Barrie Knitwear. In the statement announcing the sale, Dawson said that while "market conditions throughout the cashmere chain of businesses remain challenging", cashmere prices should increase in the second half of the year.

This is because despairing cashmere goat farmers in China and Mongolia have been slaughtering their animals for meat, which in turn has led to a squeeze on supply.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence