Strength in numbers
CWB finds out about G & D Garments
By Laura Turner
17 February 2012
Image: Steven Fyfe (left) and Robert Carey
SCOTTISH SCHOOLWEAR SUPPLIERS GLENGARNOCK GARMENTS AND DUNAIRN SCHOOLWEAR RECENTLY MERGED THEIR MANUFACTURING FACILITIES TO TRADE AS ONE COMPANY, UNDER THE NAME G & D GARMENTS.
LAURA TURNER SPEAKS TO STEVEN FYFE OF DUNAIRN SCHOOLWEAR, AND G & D GARMENTS’ NEW MD, TO FIND OUT MORE.
Laura Turner: Glengarnock Garments and Dunairn Schoolwear recently merged to form G & D Garments, but what is the background of the two businesses.
Steven Fyfe: Dunairn Schoolwear was established in 1950 by the Fyfe family and makes school kilts, skirts, pinafores, summer dresses and ties. Catering primarily for the independent retail sector, the company produces 450,000 items of uniform annually, covering around 800 schools across the UK, Bermuda, France, the USA and the Republic of Ireland. Dunairn’s head office is based in Edinburgh, with production taking place from its factory in Glasgow.
Glengarnock Garments was established in 1994 in nearby Kilbirnie by sales director Malcolm Craig, managing director Bryan Fleming and production director Robert Carey after they bought English-owned AMS Boyswear – the company they worked for at the time – out of receivership.
It was mainly manufacturing boys’ trousers for the schoolwear market along with men’s golf trousers. Having found the golfwear market saturated, it diversified into countrywear in 1998. Glengarnock Garments’ schoolwear is sold throughout the UK, with a large percentage targeting established independent schools such as Eton College and Harrow. Sixty-five per cent of its turnover is in schoolwear, with the rest made up of countrywear.
In 2005, Glengarnock Garments was bought by Swedish company Ittur before we took it back into Scottish ownership as part of G & D Garments. Today, G & D Garments is headed by myself as MD and Glengarnock Garments’ production director, Robert Carey. It supplies junior and senior trousers, shorts, Bermuda shorts, breeks (breeches) and waist coats, with all products available in tartan or cord fabrics.
LT: When did the merge of the two companies take place?
SF: In July of this year, but it was a three-year process of negotiations. Ittur was originally part of the merger, but it pulled out of the deal in May, and out of the textile industry altogether.
Despite the fact we were then only left with two months to complete the deal, for the sake of Glengarnock Garments’ survival, and with a private investment providing the financial support we needed, we continued with the merger and the final result was just as positive.
LT: Was there any relationship between Glengarnock Garments and Dunairn Schoolwear prior to the merge?
SF: The relationship between the two Scottish companies was such that they shared the same customer base and the same sales staff. Their infrastructures, therefore, crossed over in many areas.
Both businesses could see the strengths and benefits of working together through merging, and both have the ethos of offering quality, UK manufactured garments.
LT: What would you say are G & D Garments’ key strengths as a company?
SF: The new company has taken the view that both brands will become stronger suppliers in the market place trading as one because of the larger, combined skills base.
As individual companies, they both had the key strength of offering unique, bespoke school uniform and corporate garments, and a bespoke unique service is still the key strength of G & D Garments.
We’re looking forward to developing both the ongoing and new relationships between the businesses and ensuring they maintain their position at the top of UK and offshore specialist schoolwear uniform manufacturing.
LT: On a practical level, how have you integrated the two companies?
SF: We have the same sales agents, we will be running Sage accounting and production control systems and we have the launch of a new brochure next month.
G & D Garments will continue to manufacture in the UK, with all staff from both companies being retained. In terms of operation, Glengarnock Garments has moved to join Dunairn Schoolwear’s premises in Glasgow, which has been expanded to accommodate the business’ growth.
LT: Does G & D Garments plan to expand into any new schoolwear product areas?
SF: We don’t expect to expand our range until 2012, especially as the company’s offer is driven by customer demand, so we will respond to that accordingly going forward.
And, while there will be a new and wider range of fabrics developed in the short-term, initially, the company will be focused on increasing quantities of stock-supported products. For instance, producing 400 garments per year rather than 200, as there is always customer demand in this area.
Our first job is to complete the 2011 orders on time and then plan next year’s new range of garments and fabrics, but we are very confident about our position going forward. At the moment, 70 per cent of the company’s manufacturing will take place in the UK – in Scotland – with the other 30 per cent being outsourced.
G & D Garments plans to keep the same level of manufacture in Glasgow, but will also produce more outside of Scotland, to back up what it already does.
LT: What is G & D Garments doing to raise awareness of the merger?
SF: We wrote to the companies’ customers to inform them of the merger, and I will be making appointments at The Schoolwear Show to visit retailers in person throughout autumn.
As I mentioned, we are launching a new brochure, which is an updated version of what is already available, as well as new artwork. We’re also running national advertising to promote the new business.
LT: In terms of service, what changes can customers expect from G & D Garments?
SF: Our customers can expect a fuller service from both parts of the merged company, complete with new fabrics and styles becoming available during 2012.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the customers of Glengarnock Garments and Dunairn Schoolwear who have remained incredibly loyal to both companies throughout the process of the merger, which was a challenge for both companies, but ultimately, it is a resounding success, promising an extremely positive outcome for all involved.
LT: What has early customer feedback been like regarding the merge?
SF: Initial feedback from retailers has been very positive as they appreciate the benefits of the two companies working together. Many of them were customers of both suppliers, so the merge makes it easier for them to communicate and order as they’re now dealing with just one company.
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