The Midlands-based knitwear division of UK-based manufacturer, Charnos Plc (CK), has been sold to Richard Roberts Knitwear Ltd (RRK) for an undisclosed sum, the companies have announced.

After several years of turmoil in the knitwear industry both businesses have emerged as two of the UK's largest knitwear manufacturers and count high street giant Marks & Spencer among their customers.

Around 700 CK employees will transfer to RRK, which is acquiring the business and assets of CK together with a lease on the factories at Ilkeston in Derbyshire and Riddings and Irvine.

The hosiery and lingerie divisions of Charnos Plc will not be affected by the sale and Charnos Plc will continue to operate space at the Ilkeston site.

RRK chairman, Andrew Bryars, said: "This move follows the significant restructuring of the Richard Roberts knitwear businesses over the last two years including the development of our branded export operation under the Alan Paine label and the further development of our offshore manufacturing capability.

"The acquisition brings together two long established, well invested and design led knitwear businesses to create a strong UK-based but internationally orientated operation. This combination offers unique strengths in product development and technical innovation supported by a proven ability to deliver customer service."