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Are you involved in any new innovations, product developments or pioneering research? If the answer is yes then we want to hear about it. In the fast-paced working garment industry we pride ourselves on providing our members with the latest information to keep their business ahead of the game. To participate in a feature download our features list here or email us at media@director-e.com

Weathering the Storm
Feature: 23/7/2010

ickies is a long established brand which started back in 1922 in Texas USA. Since then it has built up an enormous, worldwide following, universally acknowledged as providing tough, comfortable, long lasting and value for money clothing, footwear and practical workplace accessories.

Our success demonstrates that our customers appreciate the many established designs which have proved themselves over the years because they are still recognised as being just as functional now as they were originally, with generations copying their parents in what they used to wear for both work and leisure.

Latterly however, we in the UK and Europe are following the lead taken from our parent company in the States in incorporating more of a fashion influence on our styling whilst still retaining the workwear ethic.  

Despite the effects of the recession, which affected us mainly in not being able to have enough stock to satisfy demand, we have still managed to produce record sales and expand the business in various areas.

Our policy was not to shrink away from the economic downturn and wait until it all blew over making drastic cuts in every direction. Although we were forced to make some redundancies, we have more than made up for them since the beginning of this year and we are regularly producing record monthly sales.

Instead of cutting back our marketing, we increased it, pushing the brand name into every customer target area and re-designing our new 2010 catalogue with a slightly less industrial, more universal appeal.

The company also expanded in taking over the responsibilities for the fashion market within Europe, and acquired Kodiak, which has been THE name in safety and leisure boots and other footwear in Canada for the past 100 years.

On top of that we have improved our distribution services and focussed on providing even more support to our dealers and distributors, offering immediately available advice and expertise, as well as, in more physical terms, such practical help as our new mobile showroom which acts as an important sales and promotional extension to their own outlets.

Now that we are working closely with our European associates, we find that each can learn from the other in helping to expand our respective markets. With Germany for example, they have taken from us a less regimental approach to their workwear styles whilst we have taken from them some development techniques which enhance the overall, ‘fit for purpose’ packages that we offer.
The development of all our PPE products are directly influenced by the market with the emphasis always on safety requirements. We are constantly monitoring and assessing the needs of all the trade industries we supply allowing us to recognise any opportunity where we might be able to produce new, practical answers to any workwear situation, or which may benefit from seeing more stylised versions of traditional, established products.

As is the case with any business, we aim to be as cost effective as possible with our manufacturing processes whilst still ensuring that there is never any loss in the quality and durability of every item. Speed is essential both in terms of our ‘at the needle’ manufacturing processes as well as delivery, as the faster and more efficient we are, the less the costs are to both ourselves and our customers.

Each item we produce is ‘engineered’ to be ‘fit for purpose’ having incorporated our strong quality ethics from the start, whilst still being competitively priced to offer excellent value for money. It is as important for our garments or footwear, which are made for specific work situations, to be as correctly priced as any that are aimed at the leisurewear market.

We also pride ourselves in being adaptable enough to be able to meet the demands of our customers who respond to us through a constant campaign of surveys which we conduct, to bring what they say they need to the market – when they need it.

Dickies have a big responsibility to be totally compliant with all production and safety standards across our entire range of PPE and FR products and take this matter extremely seriously. We play an active role in working with the authorities and realise the importance of helping to educate our customers as to the reasons why such stringent standards are imposed.

We also give advice on what each product is specifically designed to cope with, how it should be used and in what circumstances it can give maximum performance. This ‘consultancy’ if you like, forms a major part of our sales team’s regular contact with all our dealers and distributors. Again we encourage as much feedback as possible so that we can monitor and if necessary, adapt accordingly.

In the design and production of all our PPE and FR ranges, thorough testing is essential and especially with the new FR standards we are required to extend our already rigorous processes even further to prove that each product performs in precisely the way it is designed and manufactured to do. In addition to the manufacturing processes, our policy is to continually test random samples to check for any signs, for example of shrinkage, colour, seam durability, waterproofing effectiveness and so on.

We have every confidence in all our tried and tested products however if ever we receive a complaint or have something sent back to us, we attach great importance to always very closely studying, evaluating, and re-testing to find and rectify the problem, and either willingly replace the item or credit the cost to the customer.  

All the fabrics we use are fully tested to meet required performance levels which include for example using performance enhanced ‘wicking’ which helps remove moisture, dissipating it from the fabric and keeping the wearer cool and dry. Similarly we use processes for disbursing possible harmful bacteria. Where garments are likely to be subjected to high levels of abrasion, we use CORDURA – the hard wearing nylon fabric, and currently we are looking at the possibility of using Fairtrade Cotton.

We also offer embroidery of any garment bought from us via our corporate division as well as having full Transtat facilities for heat-applied logos. Where companies are looking for overall new corporate images, our design team can work with them to produce bespoke uniforms, and where there are in excess of 600 personnel requiring uniforms, we offer a full stock management system, supplying outfits when required and keeping ranges refreshed through constant reviews. With PPE garments we are able to give the end user the benefit of technically supported garments with a bespoke slant which still effectively conveys a specific corporate identity.

These are just some of the policies and strategies that have helped Dickies take advantage of opportunities that have arisen during the recession.

Author: Catherine Christie
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