Rowlinson named Best Supplier of the Year at the Schoolwear Show ahead of its relocation to new modern premises

UK schoolwear manufacturer Rowlinson Knitwear had plenty to celebrate at this year’s Schoolwear Show. The big news is that the company is on the move, having bought new premises for a seven-figure sum thanks to a multi-million funding package from HSBC. The employee-owned company will be relocating 2.6 miles from its current premises to a 76,000 square foot warehouse in Discovery Park, Stockport.

The new space, described by marketing manager Carrie Hamer as “awesome”, will give the company some much needed extra room in a more modern environment. It will also give Rowlinson plenty of scope for expansion over the next 10 to 15 years, and will allow it to expand its logistics capabilities, particularly during peak times, as well as provide improved working areas for its 50 staff.

Donald Moore, managing director of Rowlinson Knitwear, said: “As our company has grown massively in the last two years, we faced multiple obstacles to growth with our previous two-site set-up. Not only was the small size of the sites restricting our ability to increase our stock, but it was also inefficient as our staff were split between the two. Our new premises will solve these challenges and form a strong foundation in which we can continue to win market share and provide a great place for our staff to work.”

The moving-in date is scheduled for 3 December 2017 – nearly 18 months since Neil Ward joined the company as commercial director. “I’m really enjoying it and have been very well looked after by Rowlinson and the customers,” he said. As for his future plans for the company: “We just need to be better.”

Rowlinson has introduced the bespoke Woodbank Signatures range

Rowlinson is moving to its new 76,000 sq ft premises in December

The need to do better is a constant mantra at the company and one that all the staff support – as an employee-owned company, the staff benefit from a profit share scheme, so doing better directly affects their wallet. Not only that, but depending how customers score the company each year, the staff can also look forward to the prospect of additional holiday days. Customers are being surveyed at the moment and currently every member of the Rowlinson workforce is on track to enjoy an additional three days of holiday next year.

The Rowlinson team has plenty to cheer about even before the number of extra holidays is confirmed: at the Schoolwear Association’s inaugural awards on Sunday 15 October 2017 Rowlinson won Best Supplier of the Year thanks to the company’s sustained growth and service to customers.

“We’re honoured to have won the Best Supplier of the Year at the inaugural Schoolwear show awards,” commented Neil. “For us, being outstanding means going the extra mile for our customers and helping them to succeed. Our focus on continual improvement has helped us develop our reputation as the go-to schoolwear supplier of choice. Winning this award is a testament to the hard work and collective passion of our people, and we’re extremely pleased to be crowned Best Supplier 2017!”

This award followed another major success, with the company’s head of people services, Nicola Ryan, winning Business Person of the Year at the Stockport Business Awards on Thursday 12 October.

With regards to Rowlinson’s product range, the company’s aim continues to be to provide quality garments that are built to last when being worn five days a week, 40 weeks a year, and which look the same at the end of the school year as they did at the beginning. The latest launch – a bespoke range of its sweats line, called Woodbank Signatures – was well-received at the show and taps into the continuing trend noted by Donald of schools opting for smart, coordinated and school-specific uniforms that promote a sense of belonging amongst their students. Much like Rowlinson does with its staff.