Distribution and manufacture of the Charles Kirk brand will now be via Coolflow Schoolwear, following the close of the schoolwear specialist’s manufacturing operation in Worthing, Sussex.
Since 1 October 2019, Coolflow Schoolwear has been embroidering and distributing stock garments from Charles Kirk at its business operation in Leicester. Charles Kirk said it is still manufacturing outstanding orders, but all stock will be transferred to Coolflow this month. Customers will receive a further update on operations once this transfer is complete.
The Horton family ran Charles Kirk for over 75 years manufacturing, supplying, embroidering and printing knitwear, sweatshirts and accessories. Due to the turmoil caused by Brexit and the demise of the textile industry, it was decided that the reduced sales of UK-made products and the costs of maintaining machines in Sussex was unsustainable, said the company. Therefore, following the retirement of directors Charles and Deborah Horton, the manufacturing operation in Worthing was closed.
Charles Horton said: “We’ve enjoyed great success since my grandfather got involved with Charles Kirk in 1953. We are excited to see the next stage in the evolution of what we have built.
“Distribution and manufacture of the Charles Kirk brand via Coolflow Schoolwear will achieve a shorter and leaner supply chain. This will allow the products to remain competitive in an extremely challenging and ever-changing market.”
Over the last 30 years Charles Kirk has worked closely with Coolflow Schoolwear, initially using fabrics manufactured by the Leicester-based company for its sweatshirt garments, before Coolflow started to source knitwear and sweatshirts from Europe and then Asia.
The Loyal family, who runs Coolflow Schoolwear, said it shares Charles Kirk’s values of product quality, customer service and attention to detail. “The Coolflow team’s technical knowledge of yarns and fabrics, plus the facility to manufacture in the UK as well as offshore, will continue to provide the service and high quality of garments customers are accustomed to.”
Following the transfer of the brand, Coolflow has also installed an upgraded version of Charles Kirk’s computer system, which stores information about its bespoke garments and so will make it easier for future production purposes. The company added that it would also be offering an online ordering service in 2020.
Dan Loyal, managing director of Coolflow Schoolwear, said: “By shortening the supply chain we will ensure a sustainable and competitive supply of quality uniforms into the schoolwear industry. The business will enter into the digital era enabling higher levels of customer service.”