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Knitwear firm stitches up new markets

A DESIGNER knitwear firm in the Borders which aims to put a contemporary twist on Scottish woollens has appointed distributors in Denmark and South Korea to further boost its international sales.

Galashiels-based Eribé Knitwear was named Scottish export team of the year at last week's Scottish Enteprise-sponsored BQ Scottish Export Awards, after enjoying growth of 20-30% a year over the last few years.

Founded in 1986, the company's high-end jumpers - some which have retailed at up to £900 - plus cardigans, accessories, gloves and hats are now exported to 17 countries around the world.

The company, whose annual turnover is £1 million, employs 12 full-time knitters who work from home in Shetland, the west coast of Scotland, the Borders and England to hand-knit and machine-knit the company's garments.

Founder Rosy Eribé said that much of the company's success could be attributed to the way product colour schemes are designed to suit the skin-tone of users in particular export markets. "Scandinavians are into natural beiges and more neutral colours whereas Asians prefer different colours," she said.

Around 80% of the Eribé's products are destined for the export market and its garments can be found in fashionable shops in New York and Paris although its main export markets are Japan, Germany and Italy.

Despite political challenges, the company has also recently started selling into Russia.

In a world dominated by mass-produced clothes, Eribé said it was encouraging that customers are still prepared to pay for highly-crafted, high-quality goods made in Scotland.

"I started exporting as a way of spreading risk but exporting is now vital for us and it would be hard for us to have a growing business if we didn't export," Eribé said.

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