Turnover at knitwear firm in Borders reaches £1m

A knitwear company based in the Scottish Borders has seen turnover reach £1 million and sales this year show a year-on-year jump of 45 per cent.

Rosemary Eribe, chief executive of the business, which exports its knitwear to about 20 countries. Picture: Malcolm Cochrane.

Eribe Knitwear bills itself as “eco-friendly”, championing natural yarns, and after being founded in 1986 is still expanding, with new premises in Melrose and a new showroom coming soon.

It is led by chief executive and founder Rosemary Eribe and says it is enjoying its best trading year ever. Sales manager Shona Forrester said: “To date this year we’re 45 per cent up on sales compared to last year. Buying less, buying better quality is what counts.”

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The firm is expanding into new markets such as Taiwan, with sales also coming from the likes of Australia, Europe and Japan.

Around 20 countries stock Eribe’s Scottish designs, with more than 20,000 garments sold every year.

Rosemary Eribe said: “It’s very exciting having a young and enthusiastic team led by 33 years of experience. By expanding slowly, it’s given us very strong roots.

“I’ve always seen it like building a house – starting from the bottom and working up. And we haven’t even started the garden yet.”

The firm highlighted challenges faced by the Scottish textiles industry, adding that Brexit uncertainty has been blamed for poor high street retail sales, but businesses such as Eribe are supporting independent boutiques.

She continued: “There is so much doom and gloom on the high street, but our retailers are selling out of Eribe and coming back for repeat orders throughout the year. Our customers are looking to buy something different and new.”

Working closely with spinners from Yorkshire and Scotland, Eribe works with suppliers from the UK. Investment in Scotland includes new machines for in-house production and plans to grow the workforce.

The company also works with a small, family-run manufacturer in Bulgaria. To avoid the negative effects of Brexit, it is setting up a European distribution centre, ensuring orders are processed efficiently for EU markets, and enabling a lower carbon footprint.

In light of its best trading year to date, a new showroom is planned in the Georgian house in the centre of Melrose where the firm is now based.

According to Scottish Development International (SDI), Scotland exports textiles to more than 150 countries. Additionally, the aim is for Scottish textiles exports – which encompass knitwear such as cashmere and lambswool; woven fabrics including tweed; leather for high-end use; and technical and industrial textiles – to reach £500m by 2020, backed by a targeted £3.5m spend on research and development.

SDI stated: “Huge global brands such as Chanel source textiles from Scotland and seek Scottish expertise.”