SA continues to fight the good fight
This year sees the Schoolwear Association continue its crusade to champion quality school uniform and the independent retailers that sell it. As competition heats up from the big chain stores in the run-up to the peak summer selling period once again, we reveal the armoury of defence the Association has in place for 2014.
By Laura Turner
28 March 2014
Independent retailers face fierce competition from big chains all year round but, of course, for school uniform specialists, the heat gets turned up every summer. Claims that school uniform is expensive get blown out of proportion and play into the hands of the big stores, who often only stock school uniform for around six weeks or so per year, and who are unable to provide the specialist service independents offer or stock all sizes and all colours of uniform all year around. This year, the Schoolwear Association is again campaigning to put the facts straight.
Hard-pressed parents can easily be swayed by chain-store offers of loss leading, cheap uniform. Meanwhile, schools with a sole supplier relationship face pressure to provide more than one supplier. Of course, this is bad news for independents, but it is also bad for schools and parents who often find themselves caught between two suppliers. A sole supplier has to have the commitment to clothe every child in the school – whatever their needs. When there are several suppliers, they all have to guess what stock to carry and some children can “slip through the cracks” when availability can become an issue.
The Schoolwear Association promotes that a quality uniform that is specific to a school has numerous benefits for parents, schools and students. It may cost a little more than “cheap grey wear”, but the Association maintains it is money well spent. So its message to parents is this, “Your child is worth it.”
The Schoolwear Association represents all those involved in the supply of school-specific uniform, including retailers, direct-to-school suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, suppliers, decorators, agents and schools. Its role is to promote the benefits of school-specific uniform to schools, parents and students. It believes that a distinctive uniform aids a child’s sense of belonging, and is good for security in and out of school, and its research shows that parents and teachers agree.
Schoolwear association Initiatives for 2014:
Study shows school uniform is affordable
The Association investigated uniform at top state schools in England and discovered that all of the top 20 schools have a uniform, and the cost of a complete daywear outfit ranges from £34.99 to £126.20. The Schoolwear Association will use this research to back up its case that school uniform is reasonably priced and strongly associated with good education.
The Schoolwear Association endeavours to send email communications on issues pertaining to the industry. Regular fact sheets and press information is available to all members, with the Association also keeping a press-cutting service to ensure it can keep members updated.
Talk to the head teacher
The Schoolwear Association sends out regular communications to head teachers to provide advice on subjects such as how to specify uniform and to protect their school badges from copyright infringement. It also helps them to build the case with parents for good-quality schoolwear with a series of fact sheets.
The Association’s YouTube video, which already has more than 500 views, shows parents discussing the benefits of school uniform and debating their preference for school-specific uniform over “grey wear”. The video can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=8gp-6xOPc3A
Working with the media
The Schoolwear Association is inviting bloggers and regional journalists to an informative participatory event to show the effort that goes into creating quality school uniform – from fibre and fabric to garment delivery. This is just one of a whole host of media relations initiatives under way, set to raise the profile of the Association and present its argument to millions of newspaper and magazine readers, digital media users, and broadcast viewers and listeners. In the past 12 months, the Association has been featured on Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 Drivetime show, in The Independent and Metro, and in At Home and Reveal magazines.
The Association is also appealing for members to join its regular meetings, which are run by its volunteer executives from across the industry. Regional meetings are planned for this year, alongside the Association’s annual fundraising evening – taking place on Monday 13 October – which coincides with The Schoolwear Show, with the fundraiser taking place in close proximity to the exhibition’s venue.
If you have not yet joined the Schoolwear Association, your support would be valued. The Association is run by its members for its members. Established in 2006, it now has well over 200 members, representing all areas of the UK school-specific uniform trade. Member benefits include free media support, advice and fact sheets. Find out more at www.schoolwearassociation.co.uk
Connect with the Schoolwear Association:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/SchoolwearAssociation
Twitter – @SAschoolwear
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