Joan McAlpine MSP has condemned the Edinburgh Woollen Mill move to Carlisle from Langholm as a “cross border raid by Cumbria’s richest man”.
The South Scotland MSP said Philip Day, whose wealth grew by £50 million last year alone according to the Sunday Times Rich List, had shown no consideration to the town where EWM was born.
Ms McAlpine also pointed out that the EWM Group had seen like for like sales rise last year and reported operating profits of £91.5m.
The MSP said: “This is a cross border raid by someone whose wealth is reported as £1.2bill. It is callous and it is unnecessary. While some workers will be able to commute, the real impact will be felt by small businesses in the Langholm, such as caterers and hotels whose customers comprise a large number of EWM staff.
Ms McAlpine said the migration of jobs from Dumfries and Galloway to Carlisle was a worrying trend and she questioned how the UK Government’s proposed Borderlands Growth Deal would reverse it.
“We have already seen the move of Pinneys contracts from Annan to Carlisle and now the move by EWM. So we have Scottish smoked salmon being processed in England and an Edinburgh Woollen Mill Head-quartered in Cumbria. It’s ridiculous.
“I asked a question about the proposed Borderlands Growth Deal in parliament yesterday. The UK government still has not told us how much it will put in or when we will see the money. There is also a lack of clarity about what it will fund. But we do know it is built around a “city region” model with Carlisle at the centre of the strategy.
“While I welcome any money for the area, with Carlisle sucking jobs away from smaller towns in Scotland, I do wonder if the city region model is the right one here. By contrast, The Scottish Government’s new South Scotland development agency will focus on helping small businesses and communities across the south, which is a more appropriate solution for this area.”