2007 July 10

Just a quick mention for Gildan, who became the first basic activewear apparel manufacturer to receive Fair Labor Association Accreditation. To date only eight companies worldwide have been accredited by the FLA, the majority of which outsource their manufacturing.

The FLA are “a non-profit organization dedicated to ending sweatshop conditions in factories worldwide”. Accreditation is their most advanced recognition of a company’s labour compliance program, a company must participate in the program for a three-year period, during which the FLA verifies their compliance with its workplace code of conduct requirements, to be eligible.

“We are proud of achieving FLA accreditation,” said Glenn J. Chamandy, President and Chief Executive Officer, “which reinforces the values of social responsibility”.

Essentially the Accreditation ensures that all Gildan shirts are made in factories fully compliant with FLA standards of fair labour.

Impressively this is the first time that a brand that is also a manufacturer, factory owners themselves rather than simply companies who contract with foreign factories, have been accredited for the compliance programs they developed – so congratulations Gildan.

2007 March 8

Of the Big three – Hanes, Gildan and Fruit of the Loom only Hanes was present.

Hanes were promoting both the Hanes and Stedman ranges on separate stands.
The Hanes stand was a minimalists dream, big lights and 3 plasma screens. A bit like Foxtons, the London estate agents, there was little evidence of product on display. The Stedman stand had the product behind bars, guarded by people dressed painted to look like wild animals. What was the slogan “Bite the Customer” or was it “Fight the T-shirt” I can’t remember.

Continentals stand reflected a cool fashion image, a sort of French Connection ready for print or embroidery.

At embroidery machine stands Baruden, Tajima, SWF and Midwest ……, things were much as usual – embroidery machines busily beavering away. No hint of minimalism here.

The suppliers of heat presses and vinyl seemed to be getting plenty of traffic.

The newer technology digital printing took my interest. There were several stands including YES and Amaya offering rival machines that could print multicolour prints straight onto a t-shirt.

Notable new stands included Trutex the schoolwear supplier. I didn’t really understand the logic of their strategy of offering free embroidery on their products when the majority of visitors at the show were printers and embroiderers.

Back at our JHK stand things were busy. Could the customers get past the marketing manager from Blue Max /Stag taking photographs of our stand? Had Kustom Kit’s people had been round for a third time for brochures and price lists. No wonder we were running out. How could we politely stop the people who had decided that they wanted to win the Ipod and that they were going to do this by going through all the scratch cards. Things had started to turn nasty when they decided that the only reason that they hadn’t won was because that we weren’t really giving one away.

There were plenty of interesting moments. “Could the person who picked up the promotional bag with the lap top inside, please return it to the organisers office”.

The show was a great opportunity for new printers, embroiderers and find suppliers.
After 3 days of scoffing biscuits and multicoloured M&M’s which reflected the colours of our T-shirts it was time to go home. As for next year why does this show have to be in Birmingham again….. London or Manchester would make a nice change.

Image JHK stand at Printwear and Promotion Exhibition

2007 February 28

Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Fruit of the Loom and Russell Athletic has really set the cat amongst the pigeons. But who will be the winners, losers in this extremely competitive market.

At US based Sara Lee their Hanes operation was spun off. tha US based hosiery, underwear and major T-shirts suppliers was spun off from its parent company the Sara Lee Corp in September 2006. Since then sales at Hanes Brands have fallen by 6% from $685.2 million to $644.7 million. The company attributed the decline in part to decline in the sales underwear and T-shirts.

At Gildan the Canadian based T-shirt manufacturer sales in their first quarter which ended 31st Dec 2006 amounted to U.S. $185.8 million, up 54.4% on the first quarter of the previous year. The increase in sales was due to the acquisition of Kentucky Derby Hosiery a US based sock producer plus a 15.2% increase in unit sales volumes for activewear. The increase in sales was partially offset by a 4% reduction in selling prices for activewear which includes T-shirts, Polo-shirts and sweatshirts.

Gildan has continued to increase its market share within the US .According to S.T.A.R.S market share data Gildan has 46% market share on T-shirts and 36% market share on Fleece (sweatshirts).

In the UK the battle for market share can be clearly seen. Gildan has increased the number of distributors stocking their items for 2007. Distributor selling prices on Gildan are significantly lower than 2006. It looks like 2007 will be an interesting year.