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53: News

54: Back to School buying CWB speaks to school uniform retailers about their buying for Back to School (BTS) 2017 and how they feel about business in the year ahead.


Mix & match our great suiting options. Our stocked senior suiting range continues to expand. There are plenty of ‘mix & match’ options when it comes to our grey senior suiting range. All styles are available from stock and are ideal for secondary schools, 6th forms and Academies.

Introduced at this year’s Schoolwear Show our modern grey jackets for boys and girls are designed using the popular specification of our Eco-jackets. Made from the same durable fabric as all our stocked trouser and skirts, simply mix and match styles to create a suit.

Durability in mind. Ethics at heart.

The above ‘mix & match’ option strengthens our full suiting range, including the ‘Academia’ range from stock. The Academia range of poly/wool blend jackets has expanded to now include a Boys slim fit trouser (based on our DL959) and Girls straight skirt. Creating a smart and stylish look the whole year through.

Explore the range. Call 0161 272 7474 or visit for further product information.

FULL RANGE OF SCHOOLWEAR AND SPORTSWEAR AT UNBEATABLE PRICES WITHOUT COMPROMISE ON QUALITY Westwood House, 28 Knowsley Street, Manchester, M8 8HQ Telephone: 0161 8391862 Email: Order by Calling in Store, by Email or by Telephone

320GMS, Teflon Coated, Scuff Proof Washable Blazers • Embroidery screen printing • Heat press available for all your personal needs

“Simply The Best Blazers In The United Kingdom” PART OF


Over 35 years’s excellence in manufacturing And supplying SchoolWear

We’ll always be around to support our retailers.) Why working with us works for you… We think it’s important to work with those who respect the market, and the place we each have within it. That is why we will… • Put your business and its future as our number one priority • Always be passionate supporters of the retail trade • Be dedicated to ethics and fairness in everything we do Visit to discover more about us or call 0161 272 7474. #workingtogether

Durability in mind. Ethics at heart.

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Schoolwear NEWS:


The latest news from the schoolwear industry. SCHOOLWEAR ASSOCIATION ANNIVERSARY

DAVID LUKE ENHANCES TRADE WEBSITE Following customer feedback, David Luke has made further improvements to its trade website, Launching before the new year with an updated look and smooth navigation, the refreshed trade site has been designed to be even easier to use than previously. While former key benefits remain, namely priority despatch and live stock levels, upgraded functionality features include mobile/tablet responsiveness, which as well as providing a more modern look, will enable trade customers to order from any device at any time. Changes to the website will be made live towards the end of this year. In the meantime, retailers can continue to use the current website. —

Everactiv is a new independent UK sportswear brand designed with junior and youth athletes in mind. The debut range for girls offers bright, patterned and fun technical garments for the 8-14 year age bracket. Suitable to be part of a school PE kit, or for training and competition, highlights include technical sports leggings, three-quarter length leggings, shorts, T-shirts, long-sleeve T-shirts and crop tops. The brand, which is currently trading at pop-ups, junior sports events and online, is seeking sportswear independents and school uniform retailers amongst its stockists. Wholesale prices range from approximately £7.80 to £15. —


MAPED HELIX TEAMS WITH MATTEL BRANDS The trade body for the school-specific uniform sector, The Schoolwear Association (SA), chose the recent edition of The Schoolwear Show to help mark its 10th anniversary. Pictured above are the four chairmen who have presided over the SA in its 10 years, including its current chair, CURIOUS ORANJ David Burgess of David Luke. The SA represents the interests of more than 200 specialists, including retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, fabric manufacturers and garment decorators. An established industry voice and a force for fair and ethical trading, the SA encourages best practice via a series of initiatives, including the development of a robust Code of Practice for members to adhere to. Visit for further information. —


Maped Helix has confirmed an agreement with Mattel to launch its new Fun to Learn brand. Targeting children aged 2-6 years, the new Helix Fun to Learn range offers innovative new products with leading children’s brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder. The School Essentials Packs will be the first products to launch, with each pack containing uniquely branded stencils, colouring pencils, scissors, a jumbo pencil, ruler, eraser and sharpener. The partnership cements Maped Helix’s place as number one in the educational stationery sector, following its range of maths sets gaining 91 per cent market share over the last 12 months. “We’ve secured four fantastic licences, opening up our products to a new consumer demographic,” says Gray Richmond, Maped Helix MD. Helix’s Fun to Learn product range will be available from March 2017. —

– New Silksworth Academy in Sunderland has donated more than 500 items of unworn school uniform to pupils in Gambia. Sunderland-based charity the Box Youth Project collected jumpers, T-shirts, PE kits, cardigans, coats, book bags and shoes, which were surplus stock from the academy’s school shop. The items will now be sent to school children in the poverty stricken Gunjar region of Gambia.

Counting on Gloves, or COGS for short, is a new product designed to help children memorise times tables as well as supporting cognitive development and helping build confidence. Reflecting the Government’s agenda that all children should learn their times tables by the age of 11, the one-size-fits-all gloves cover the times tables from 1 to 10. The numbers themselves are embedded within the gloves, which are machine washable. Available in blue, grey, pink and red, the gloves wholesale for £4 per pair. —

– Baldwins Department Store in Halstead, Essex, is the newly opened replacement for the former menswear and school uniform outfitter Frank Smith and Sons. With Frank Smith and Sons having been a popular destination for schoolwear, Baldwins Department Store will continue selling school uniform under the banner of Frank Smith and Sons schoolwear.

– Shropshire embroidery company Sewprint has invested more than £40,000 in a six-head Tajima embroidery machine to boost capacity. The firm, which relocated to new, larger premises earlier this year, supplies and produces embroidered schoolwear, sportswear and workwear. Plans for 2017 include taking on more staff and an apprentice.



BACK TO SCHOOL BUYING CWB speaks to school uniform retailers about their buying for Back to School (BTS) 2017. —


What stood out for BTS 2017? BMB’s acquisition of Orion and its new sportswear range. Were post-Brexit price increases evident? Yes, very much so. My suppliers have announced price increases ranging from 5 per cent to 11 per cent as a result of Brexit. Some suppliers have already increased their cost prices, whilst others are not doing so until December or after Christmas. This has made me look at switching suppliers in the short term, although in the long term, there is probably little point as ultimately they will all have increased their prices by around the same amount. I am considering placing bulk orders before Christmas in order to beat the January price increases. 54 - NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

Do you feel confident about business going into 2017? No, I do not feel confident at all, for two reasons. Firstly, the huge cost price increases we are now experiencing will squeeze margins significantly. Inevitably, we will have to put our prices up, which will have a negative impact on sales as I will not be able to maintain key price points and therefore customers will not buy as much. I expect inflation will start to rise in all consumer markets in the new year, which will mean customers will have less money to spend and they will be much more careful about what and how much they buy. I have already noticed a much more cautious approach to buying school uniform since the referendum: customers bought less than they usually do this summer, taking a “we’ll just buy one for now and see how we get on” approach. Secondly, I am also facing an astronomical increase in business rates from April, following the UK Government’s recent revaluation of business premises. Unlike many of my counterparts in England, who will be exempt from business rates from April, my

rates will be doubling every year for the next four years because I am based in Wales. This is because the Welsh Government has chosen not to implement the same Small Business Rates Relief scheme that will be introduced in England from April. Over the next four years, my rates will increase by 400 per cent from £985 pa currently, to £5k pa. Frustratingly, if I were in England, I would not have to pay any rates at all. This is such a huge increase that it is seriously threatening the ongoing viability of my business. As you would expect, I am challenging this situation with both the Welsh Government and the UK Valuations Office. I had several capital investment plans in the pipeline for next year – a new van, website development and promotion, the possibility of opening a second shop, as well as wanting to recruit additional staff – but I have put everything on hold until I have more clarity on both the impact of Brexit and the situation with business rates. The only plans I am exploring now are range extension opportunities with the schools I already supply.

Have you taken on any new suppliers or products for BTS 2017? No, I am happy with the suppliers I already have – BMB, Balmoral, David Luke, William Turner and Tie & Scarf Co.


Have you taken on any new suppliers or products for BTS 2017? I’ve not taken on a new supplier for 2017, but I did buy from two new suppliers in 2016 (1880 Club by Douglas & Grahame and Prestige Schoolwear). I tend to use The Schoolwear Show to see those suppliers we use whilst keeping an eye out for anything new in the market. What stood out for BTS 2017? There seems to be an increasing supply of sublimated sports kit from various suppliers and to be honest, it was difficult to identify any significant difference in many of them. Were post-Brexit price increases evident? Most of the suppliers had announced various price increases before The Schoolwear Show, so yes, it was pretty evident this was very widespread. It did not mean I would adjust my buying, I try and get my orders all in place well before Christmas anyway, so that is no different. I feel the danger of buying smaller quantities would be to be vulnerable at the busiest times, when suppliers may not be able to get the stock required through quickly enough. Do you feel confident about business going into 2017? I feel extremely confident going in to 2017; almost all of our suppliers performed well in 2016 and BTS went smoothly. I feel communication with your suppliers is the key: place the orders in full, early, and get the stock in place, hopefully avoiding the last-minute panic. By working with our suppliers and where possible, remaining loyal to them for many years, I feel this helps when problems arise. We aim to take on some new schools this year if possible and feel that there is potential for further growth in the future.

PAUL WILDING PARTNER, GRAYS, STORES IN BLACKBURN AND CLITHEROE Have you taken on any new suppliers or products for BTS 2017? Yes, we have been testing the David Luke day skort at one of our large primary schools and the feedback has been incredibly positive from parents and children alike. We are also currently showing the Bergoni part sublimated PE kit to several senior schools and expect many to move for BTS 2017. What stood out for BTS 2017? David Luke is yet again ahead of the game with innovation – its new Academia range is fantastic. I also thought the new Trutex coloured shirts and blouses are great for schools who want the bespoke look without the price that often comes with it. Were post-Brexit price increases evident? Price increases are inevitable, not only due to Brexit, but also workplace pensions and the rise of the living wage. I feel as schoolwear retailers that we have been lucky to not incur large increases for many years. I’m happy with the suppliers that we use, and the level of service they provide. As a company, we will continue to work closely with our suppliers and as such, our buying levels will remain the same. Do you feel confident about business going into 2017? Yes, we are confident. We are finding more and more that parents are looking for quality garments and as such, don’t mind paying that little bit more to ensure the garment lasts. Our plans over the coming months are to overhaul our website and refit our Blackburn store in the style of our much more modern Clitheroe store, as well as planning for a smooth BTS 2017.

PANY KOKKINI OWNER, THOMAS SCHOOLWEAR, DULWICH Have you taken on any new suppliers or products for BTS 2017? Not really. The schools we service are consistent in what they want, so we usually go back to our regular suppliers as we trust them and it works well. If you have a great relationship with a supplier then we believe it’s better to stick with what works. What stood out for BTS 2017? The 50/50 cardigan by Gregory Pollard seems to be gaining popularity. It’s a cardigan manufactured in Turkey made from 50 per cent cotton, and 50 per cent acrylic, yet it feels just like cotton. It’s been around five or six years so it’s not really new, but I’ve noticed that it’s become more prominent this year. Turkey is quite a relevant manufacturing destination; it’s a good alternative to far away destinations like China, though manufacturing is fickle and this is changing again due to geo-political factors. Thermal gloves seem to be more technical for BTS 2017 and generally more popular, too. Were post-Brexit price increases evident? Yes, and they are affecting myself and other retailers in quite a big way. There was an initial five per cent cost increase, but this is set to increase again in January, so ultimately, we’re looking at a 10 per cent increase. It’s something we all have to swallow, but if the increase is passed down to the consumer, they may choose to go to Primark, Matalan or the supermarkets instead of their independent schoolwear retailer. I tend to order from my suppliers online in small regular quantities, so the price increase has not changed the way or quantities I buy, but everyone is undoubtedly being more cautious. Do you feel confident about business going into 2017? We experienced a small upturn last year and a couple of small schools joined us so I am feeling confident about 2017. That said, you can’t just sit back and expect business to come to you; you have to stay on top of everything to keep a business going. Our plan is to keep growing and maintaining the quality customer base and relationships that we have. As retailers, we’re all feeling the squeeze, from above through rents and from below through the consumer. Customers, like everyone else, are feeling the pinch and are having to make buying decisions based on their budgets, too.

MATTHEW HARRISON MANAGING DIRECTOR, SIMPLY UNIFORM, DERBY Have you taken on any new suppliers or products for BTS 2017? Yes, Marathon Bags and also new sublimation kit and sportswear from BMB following the takeover of SWI. We have also taken on additional items from William Turner, with water bottles and pencil cases. What stood out for BTS 2017? The Actus range, especially for school staff, looks a good offering and is one we are already getting positive responses and enquiries from schools for. Were post-Brexit price increases evident? We have not really noticed a large impact so far through our purchasing. Do you feel confident about business going into 2017? Yes, extremely confident. We have extended our showroom and taken on two extra staff and an apprentice. We are also now offering in-house printing along with our in-house embroidery. Ranges are also increasing within our online store.







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CAROLINE FLOOD Commercial director, Frugi In August, Caroline Flood was appointed commercial director of UK organic childrenswear brand Frugi. Tasked with supporting Frugi’s continued growth, her role will see her drive forward the brand’s overall sales strategy and support its domestic and international expansion. — LT: What are your views on the current childrenswear market? CF: In 2015, the UK childrenswear market continued to grow in both value and volume terms and in the last five years, growth in global childrenswear sales has outpaced that of both menswear and womenswear. Like adult clothing, the childrenswear market is experiencing a level of polarisation that favours both a value offer and designer brands. At high street level, children’s clothing has begun to imitate adults’, as parents’ desire for their children to be a ‘mini-me’ has increased and their consumption habits have shifted towards more frequent purchases.

Laura Turner: What is your professional background? Caroline Flood: I have over 15 years of sales experience in both retail and wholesale environments, predominantly within the beauty industry, having worked in sales roles for L’Oréal and CARGO Cosmetics and as a buyer at Sainsbury’s. Prior to joining Frugi, I was head of wholesale at Cath Kidston. LT: What attracted you to Frugi as an employer? CF: I really believe in the founders’ vision, that you can create a great brand whilst upholding strong environmental and socially beneficial beliefs. Frugi may have green genes, but it’s also a brand that embraces innovation and has a history of growing at a consistently fast rate; it’s certainly going to be an exciting place to work. Not only are there great products at Frugi, there are great people, too. It’s a really fun, fast-paced working environment and I’m particularly excited about the new product development we have planned for future seasons, as well as working to bring on board new retailers, both in the UK and abroad. LT: What are your key strengths and how do they align with Frugi? CF: During my career I’ve worked with many different department stores, both in the UK and Europe, and this experience, combined with my success at bringing on board new business, is perfectly aligned with Frugi’s international growth strategy. I also speak French, Spanish and Portuguese, which will 58 - NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

help us target new markets where these languages are spoken. Additionally, I can help provide direction to our field-based sales team and support in achieving our strategic goals, while at the same time providing them with a way to share their ideas and feedback with our colleagues based in our Cornwall head office. LT: What’s your leadership style? CF: Motivational, with open, direct and honest feedback, which is also how I like to be managed. In a recent 360-degree feedback I was described by my team and peers as “a supportive and committed leader”, “informal but focused manager” and “proactive and organised”. LT: What’s first on your agenda? CF: The focus of my role is sales growth. I’ll be leading our sales team to help them deliver both their sales targets and excellent customer service, while also working with internal departments such as marketing and design to ensure we have a consistent and clearly defined sales and marketing strategy with exciting and innovative products launching each season. LT: And your long-term plans? CF: Frugi has already grown at an incredibly fast rate since it started in 2004 and I intend to continue this trend. It’s my role to identify the best route to market to deliver maximum sales revenue and optimum customer experience, and that might be direct to consumer, wholesale, agents or distributors.

LT: What are your views on organic clothing? CF: I believe organic clothing is the best thing you can dress your children in. It’s super soft, kind to delicate skin, durable and better for the environment. Historically, organic clothing has been restricted to plain designs and muted colours. At Frugi, we have revolutionised the organic childrenswear market by creating fun, bright organic clothing with animal characters loved by parents and children alike. Organic clothing is a niche but growing sector. LT: What are the key areas of growth for Frugi? CF: Frugi already has a strong following in the UK and Germany and we can leverage this brand awareness to drive both domestic and international expansion. We have a multiaward winning, ethical range of gorgeous, 100 per cent organic cotton clothes for 0-10 years, but there’s scope to widen the range further to include exciting new product categories. LT: What’s in-store for the a/w 17 collection? CF: Our a/w 17 theme is The Circus of Colour. We’ve taken a bold approach with bright autumn-inspired tones and prints with beautiful and fun appliqués, innovative designs and products that we hope will make playtime even more magical. Through our designs, colours and fun characters, we want to engage little ones and make Frugi clothing the brand that both parents and children reach for first when getting dressed in the morning. LT: What’s the next phase for Frugi? CF: It’s an exciting time to be part of the Frugi family. In addition to my appointment as commercial director, there have been other key recruits to strengthen the team and prepare us for the next phase of growth. Global expansion and product innovation are our top priorities.


CWB103 Schoolwear Buyer  

CWB103 Schoolwear Buyer

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