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Business newspaper

The start of a new year is the perfect time to assess goals and aspirations. Rebecca Jackson speaks to schoolwear suppliers to discover their business resolutions for 2017.

Our new year’s resolution for 2017 is to communicate the benefits of a UK-made product both to our customers and schools in general. With children’s garments made in the UK you can be sure that they are made for children and not by children. The Charles Kirk workforce work under the same national conditions as the parents of the children that wear our garments. There are lower carbon emissions as the garments are not transported vast distances by air or sea. Due to the higher minimum wage levels in the UK, which are nearly 20 times more than those set in some parts of Asia, our garments will be more highly priced than imports but, by using our skilled workforce and good quality raw materials, we produce hardwearing garments that will not just last months but years.
Sarah Horton-Parsons, director, Charles Kirk

Having taken into consideration everything that was thrown at us in 2016, our resolution is to simply look forward to getting on with the job in hand which is all about assisting customers with their sales and marketing. Our priority resolution as a company in 2017 is to share the sales and marketing benefits of our products and applications by reminding everyone as to the power of One. With over 25 years’ experience in over 45 countries, we confirm that customers who actively target personalised samples to customers get results and create new business. This cost-effective method of marketing generates actual orders and improves customer perception of you as a supplier. The schoolwear market is changing and those involved directly in supplying the market also need to change. The focus is on what else can you supply to the school, and on supporting it with an actual personalised sample for evaluation. TheMagicTouch continue to host sales and marketing seminars throughout 2017 at its UK headquarters in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Jim Nicol, managing director, TheMagicTouch “Following the referendum in June 2017, I hope we can get back to a more stable environment for the schoolwear market, and focus on what matters most to schools, parents and pupils. Talking about Trutex specifically, we will continue to put our customers at the heart of our organisation, and focus on trying to improve in everything we do next year. We are excited about the prospects of 2017 and look forward to working with our many customers.”
Matthew Easter, managing director, Trutex

Having put 2016 to bed, with all its challenges, I am very excited to look forward to 2017. My personal goal is to get the Golden Finishes (GF) range of cost effective promotional textiles in front of as many schoolwear companies as possible, explaining the benefits of promoting these products to schools, clubs and businesses and why garment retailers can explore other revenue streams that sit perfectly with their existing offerings. I will also be looking at how GF can work closely with dynamic and forward thinking garment suppliers to offer more to their retailers. Working together, I have always believed, is the way forward in business and if each level of the supply chain can benefit, then there is a real incentive to make this work for all involved. I am continually investigating new and exciting ways that we can develop the range. We will continue to promote the benefits of ‘Made in the UK’ and will be getting out on the road to talk to customers both directly and at shows. This is how we at GF have built the business to where it is today and how we will be continuing to build throughout the new year. I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be another fabulous year for Golden Finishes – so let’s make 2017 great together so we can all benefit from the success.
Jeremy Aston-Phillips, sales director, Golden Finishes

“We have a few goals for the New Year; firstly to continue growing our export side of the business to 10 per cent of turnover, and secondly to reduce lead times (especially on our UK made products) during the Back to School period. As usual we are keen to provide a service unrivalled in our sector and to not allow Brexit to be all-consuming.”
Andy Smith, sales director, William Turner

It is looking like another exciting year ahead. At David Luke, we’ll be focused on continuing to invest in key stock lines such as Eco blazers, jackets, skirts and trousers, where we’ve been achieving year on year growth. We will be aiming to enhance our stock support and service delivery further, as this will be even more important to retailers if the trend towards a last-minute Back to School continues into 2017. We remain committed to providing our customers with resources to support with school tender applications and presentations. There are many different tools we have put in place and we will be exploring more ways of ensuring that independent retailers can retain control of the supply contracts held with schools.
Kathryn Shuttleworth, managing director, David Luke

“We have had an encouraging year since launching our specially adapted schoolwear brand that is suitable for children with eczema and sensitive skin in September 2015. In 2017 we plan to consolidate and further build on our market presence and brand awareness throughout the UK. In addition, we plan to continue our product development so we can meet more than the uniform needs of children with sensitive skin. We have products in the pipeline that we plan to bring to market in 2017, so watch this space. I am anticipating an exciting and busy year for Totally Cool Clothing.”
Judy Micklethwait, founder/managing director, Totally Cool Clothing

Our New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to be better. This goal complements our vision of being a great company to work with. We want our customers to benefit from an even better service, faster turnaround times and improved quality year on year. We resolve not to cut corners, cheapen products or add to our range, because we aim to represent stability and trustworthiness in the coming challenging years. For our suppliers, this means sustaining strong and loyal relationships. For our people, we want to reward trust, care and customer service excellence. In 2016, as an employee-owned firm, we demonstrated our responsibility to do the right thing for our customers and our people. This was showcased by the BBC who featured us as a role model in response to the important debate about excessive boardroom pay and greater corporate governance. Finally, we will continue to live up to our customer charter by not supplying schools or parents directly.
Donald Moore, managing director, Rowlinson Knitwear

Following the recent acquisition of SWI and Orion Teamwear, our vision is to encourage customers to wake up in the new year to our exciting, new and invigorated sportswear portfolio. APTUS Performance is our professionally designed ready-to-wear collection which brings a new class of sportswear to the industry. Technical fabrics as well as innovative designs are the direct result of collaborative research with students and staff. The collection offers six pieces for girls, and six for boys. Girls, who have historically been under-catered for on the school sportswear field, will welcome a range of unique features incorporated into each garment to ensure a flattering fit. The purchase of Orion Teamwear has added a new bespoke dimension to our sportswear line-up in the form of Teamwear Kit Design. We are now able to offer either cut and sewn or sublimated products made from Orion’s advanced, technical fabrics, in an unrivalled choice of colour and designs. BMB is already widely known as the leading schoolwear provider in the UK. Our vision is that our greatly enhanced sportswear collection will help us get to the top of our game in this sector, too.
Laura Thomas, sales & marketing director, BMB

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