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Talking Heads

Exclusive interviews

with movers and shakers

19th June 2015, Elgin, Scotland

Interview with Simon Cotton, CEO of Johnstons Cashmere

Talking Heads is a brand new Knittingindustry.com column, which features exclusive interviews with the industry’s movers and shakers. In this Talking Heads, we speak to Simon Cotton, CEO at renowned Scottish cashmere knitwear and accessories producer Johnstons Cashmere. The company has a heritage dating back to 1797.

Simon Cotton, CEO at renowned Scottish cashmere knitwear and accessories producer Johnstons Cashmere. © Johnstons Cashmere KI: How was 2014 for your business and what are the prospects for your business in 2015?

SC: Business was strong for us in 2014 with growth coming especially from knitted accessories where we have some very strong partnerships and an excellent reputation.  In 2015 we are expecting another strong year and we believe the increase in market interest in fine, knitted Scottish cashmere will continue.

KI: Which are currently your best selling products and which are your best markets?

SC: We are particularly present in Japan, the US and Northern Europe.  We have long established offices and customer relationships which go back many, many years.  We are finding that markets with a traditional link into the United Kingdom have a particular affinity for the story of Scottish cashmere which is stronger than ever.  Over the last few years we have seen our business become even more focussed around cashmere with some blended fibres and merino still playing a significant role, particularly during the summer months.

KI: Can you give our readers some insight into what they can expect in the way of new products from your company in the coming months?

SC: Our knitted garments are becoming lighter and more detailed.  We are also producing traditional Scottish knit structures with even lighter weights to make them more wearable.  You will also see an increase in our accessories offering to give more fashion pieces and to reflect the increased interest we are seeing in this area.  We have a long history in ponchos, wraps and stoles which are extremely popular at the moment.

KI: What do you see as the most important market trends at the moment that affect your business?

SC: Cashmere has become even more of a luxury fibre than ever before with prices rising strongly in 2013 and 2014.  This means that the market for true Scottish cashmere requires even more attention to detail than ever before and that is certainly what we will be giving them.  At this price level every aspect of the garment has to be perfect and each style has to show something interesting and distinctive to attract the wearer.

KI: Is there anything else you would like to bring to the attention of our readers?

SC: Scottish cashmere is certainly enjoying strong demand at the moment and this has meant that traditional skills are much in demand in the Scottish borders.  We have now established a dedicated training school where we are putting young people through Modern Apprenticeship training with time-served experts.  We believe that it is vitally important that the knitwear industry pays more attention to the need to train the next generation for our industry.


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