Andrew Clark, Russell Europe country manager, offers advice to garment decorators on breaking into the schoolwear market

Children’s Full Zip Outdoor Fleece

How can garment decorators best market their services to schools?
Targeted marketing to a specific school, rather than mass marketing, proves very worthwhile. Making sure that any information, samples or quotes sent to the school are followed up is extremely important, but often overlooked.

Aiming to be a secondary supplier can get your foot in the door. The service and quality of product you supply can then increase your share.

Make sure you take advantage of all the marketing support material available to you. On our website www.russelleurope. com, for example, we have a support materials section where you can find a number of marketing materials to help promote every garment.

What advice do you have for a garment decorator looking to break into the schoolwear market?
Do your research. The schoolwear market is very competitive and certain schools will have existing agreements with a particular supplier. Make sure you know when these agreements are being reviewed and how you make the shortlist for the next one. At Russell, we offer extensive business development support to customers who want to promote and sell our brand.

What should a garment decorator look for when choosing a schoolwear brand?
First and foremost it has to be quality. Thankfully, the drive towards ever-cheaper school uniforms has been stemmed. Parents want value for money, which means not only offering a product at the right price, but also one that will last.

As a brand, we heavily focus on the lifetime value of our garments. This is the garment cost, divided by the number of washes. This ensures that children look just as good throughout the year as they do on the first day of wearing the garment.

Another important consideration is supply chain. We operate with an established UK distributor network that holds vast quantities of our garments and we also carry stock across Europe to ensure our customers can access our products when they need them.

Our distributor partners are able to deliver our full product range on a next day basis, which eliminates the need to pre-book with your supplier before the school has even decided on their uniform plans.

What upselling opportunities are there?
We are firm believers of getting our products in front of people. It is the best way someone can see the quality of a garment, rather than just seeing a picture or a price. By knowing your customer, the colours they wear and the budget they are working too, there are many great opportunities to uncover in this area.

What are the most popular schoolwear garments?
The everyday items – polo shirts, sweatshirts and cardigans – have been very popular school uniform items for many years and we believe this will continue. These garments offer excellent value for money to the parents and, most importantly, children feel comfortable wearing these all day long.