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What Do I Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? Really?

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By Douglas Bailey, Managing Director at Stuncroft

Honestly? First thought is “Not another distraction from the difficult job of trying to run a business.” Second thought; “it’s used as a PR vehicle for many companies.” Third thought; “it’s a policy that was probably invented to keep poor companies in check.”

Then I examined the way I run Stuncroft Ltd. I realised that the very tenet of a CSR policy are actually my core beliefs. Namely:

1. Happy employees who develop and grow.
2. Satisfied customers as they appreciate the ethics of the company
3. Long term future prosperity of the business.
4. Benefits to the local community and the wider world by doing business in a fair and ethical way.
5. Promotes opportunity for the business.
6. Minimises risk in many areas.
7. Attracts investment.
8. Actual cost reduction (especially in staff recruitment).
9. Improves quality of both the product and the service as a result of buy-in.
10. Finally, the simple desire to do Good!

It took me back to school and the story of Bournville, the home of Cadbury chocolate.

The story below explains the attitude of George Cadbury. Whilst he did not have a formal CSR Policy I think it is safe to say he did more than most companies who have policies in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility.

In 1847, when the Cadbury factory became too small, George Cadbury had a vision of the future. ‘Why should an industrial area be squalid and depressing?’ he asked. His brother Richard shared this vision and they began searching for a special site for their new factory. In 1878 they chose a 141⁄2 acre greenfield site between the villages of Stirchley, King’s Norton and Selly Oak, about four miles south of Birmingham. The site comprised a meadow with a cottage and a trout stream – the Bourn. The name ‘Bournville’ was chosen. At Bournville, workers lived in far better conditions than experienced in the crowded slums of the city. Bournville had a canal, train, road links and a good water supply. George wanted to build a place full of green spaces, where industrial workers could thrive away from city pollution.

Production began in September 1879. Cadburys’ workers found facilities that were simply unknown in Victorian times. There was a field next to the factory where men were encouraged to play cricket and football; a garden and playground for the girls; a kitchen where workers could heat up their meals, and properly heated dressing rooms where they could get changed. Sports facilities grew to
include; football, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis and squash racquet courts and a bowling green. Gradually swimming pools were built and every young boy and girl joining the company was encouraged to become a good swimmer. Work outings were organised together with summer camps for the young boys.

For workers who still needed to travel to the new factory from their homes in Birmingham, Cadbury negotiated special workmen’s train fares to Bournville’s Stirchley Station with the local railway company. Cadbury duly became famous not just for its prosperity, but also for the advances in conditions and social benefits for its workforce.

The above story perfectly outlines a business run for profit, sustainability and growth. It also shows a business that has CSR at its heart. In 1879 Cadburys’ didn’t have a CSR policy; or did it?

Today Stuncroft manufacture in 4 different countries. We have a standard CSR policy for all to see. However, far more important than a written policy is how we behave. In all countries we stress many of the principles George Cadbury believed in. Honest, decent and fair
to all: customers, suppliers, staff. Do no harm. Better still do good. Improve the areas and lives you touch. Yes, we have bought football kits for local teams in the factories and supported other events for the local population, but they are extra. They are not the main tenet of being socially responsible. In almost all areas of business it costs no more to be responsible than not. It costs no more be decent and fair. I have run out of space to mention sustainability in any depth, but It is all part of the same story. 170 years later Cadbury are still going strong. They are still a responsible company doing good. For now, that says something about sustainability and social responsibility.

Forget the name of the policy and just behave responsibly and fair in all areas. It’s in all of our interests.

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Five Star Service for Budget Pricing

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The death knell for profitable corporate wear suppliers is the desire to offer world class service but charge budget prices. As an industry it is time to sell the product not the price!

I am now in my 35th year in the clothing business. I have seen many changes.

The most significant impact on the industry is, arguably, constant movement of manufacturing to less expensive destinations. This has enabled consumers to buy what is in effect disposable clothing.

Consumers are now more comfortable spending a night at the Every man cinema with a couple of drinks and some small snack and parting with £65 than paying £15 for a shirt that will last a few years. The Every man cinema experience is wonderful but fleeting. The shirt could conceivably deliver many wonderful memories and instill confidence in the wearer? I sell trousers that will last three school terms for the same price as two bottles of Peroni in Soho.

How does this relate to corporate wear? Well in 1995, I sold a wonderful tailored jacket that would perform at work. It was dry clean only and made from a European wool based fabric. The cost of the jacket was approx £110, the matching trousers £50. Great value for a suit that you could wear to work everyday was delivered within 5 days and needed dry cleaning. During the 20 years since then the corporate wear industry has become fiercely competitive. I now sell a suit that is every bit as well made, it will perform even better at work, you can wash it and it will, nearly always, be delivered next day! The cost of this hugely improved offer? The jacket costs approx £59 and the trousers £25. That is the price to the www.director-e.com consumer! In my opinion this must represent the best value clothing in the world, yes the world!

When it comes to large projects nearly all suppliers of corporate clothing to major wearer groups have gone bust or had financial difficulties over the last 20 years. There are now a handful of suppliers who can offer a great service to a large corporate business looking for clothing. Those that are left are struggling to make a good return on their investment. They all offer a brilliant service and have experience gained over many years. So what do they do to win business? They largely compete on price. The result? The tailored clothing is of a lower standard and the companies scour the earth looking for cheaper manufacturing. Few suppliers really attempt to differentiate or offer a unique product. Rarely are corporations challenged on unrealistic lead times or price expectations. Prices are on a par with those paid by huge retailers but the product hugely superior.

I recount a story about a presentation at a large motorcar manufacturer. The car manufacturer wanted tailored suits for its workforce. After the pitch the car manufacturers representative complained about the price of the suit. Rather
than meekly accept the objection and offer to “sharpen her pencil” my colleague gave a detailed explanation about the manufacture of the fabric. She painted a picture of the wool processing and the spinning and weaving, dying and finishing process that takes 10-12 weeks. She then detailed the quality of the unseen components that make the “skeleton” of a great suit. The two-piece chest piece, washable canvas and stay tapes. The sprung sleeve head roll and two piece tailored shoulder pads. She explained the design and fitting process and extensive wearer trial that the suit had undergone. The factory tech’s who followed production to ensure consistency of finish. The compliance standards required for each manufacturer in the supply chain. The dyed through buttons and world leading zips and thread used. After 45 minutes she stopped.The representative of this high value car brand clapped; actually clapped the presentation.
She did sell the suiting. Sorry but she also gave a discount, not sure it was needed but given under pressure to “secure the business”.

I have no answer to the consolidation or price competition that has occurred in my industry.

I write this piece in support of all the hard working supplier of corporate wear in our industry. I hope that one person reading this has a similar reaction to the car manufacturer and respects the shear outstanding value of the corporate clothing they wear.

By Douglas Bailey, Managing Director at Stuncroft.
Featured in www.director-e.com

Press Release

Professional Clothing Awards Brochure Commendation

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The Professional Clothing Awards was established to recognise international uniform chain suppliers and reward exceptional workwear, corporate clothing and PPE from around the globe. With over 300 buyers, suppliers and distributors from all over the world, The Professional Clothing Awards 2017 took place at the Intercontinental Hotel – O2, on Wednesday 21st June to celebrate the latest innovations and achievements in our dynamic industry.

Clubclass Corporate Clothing were delighted to be awarded the brochure commendation for their combined catalogue. The combined catalogue features six main collections, Everyone, Evolution, Europa, Endurance, Events and The Individual Collection.

Using tabs to separate the collections, the brochure is very easy to navigate. It also has a luxurious feel with a soft laminate finish on the front cover and smooth silk inner pages. Clubclass provided the option for their supplies to customise the front cover with their own branding and also create their own digital version using an online brochure generator.

Photography was shot across London and Yorkshire, with The Royal Armories in Leeds as their main location. Clubclass also used a combination of studio and mannequin photography to show the diverse range of corporate clothing they have to offer.

Clubclass Corporate Clothing would like to thank everyone who helped shape the creation of their brochure.

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To view a PDF of the brochure, click here.

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Does “Trumpism” matter to us?

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By Douglas Bailey, Managing Director at Stuncroft – featured in http://director-e.com/

The point? It is always about Donald J. Trump!
Like so much of recent political life surprise, chaos and disruption that have defined President Trump’s first 100 days. So many promises are made and few carried out that we become immune to political spin? Trump doesn’t appear to have accomplished much in the rst 100 days. His legislative agenda is stalled. Foreign policy relations have created more tensions, not fewer. His travel ban has been blocked by government. The “Wall” isn’t happening. As I write the U.S. government is in danger of being shut down because it can’t agree a budget! NATO is dysfunctional and irrelevant; then it’s “very, very important”. You get the point.

His general conduct appears to be that of a petulant schoolboy. Wasting time arguing with journalists and news channels leading to what appears to be a diminishing of the Presidential Office. One thing is clear President Trump is impulsive. He does what he wants, when he wants. He will not be changing just because he is the Leader of the free world. He gets headlines around the world. What he does, says or tweets moves markets His enemies have no idea what he is likely to do. His close allies are in the dark.

He loves surprises. Business doesn’t!

Business supports Free Trade. Does Trump?
His mantra is “Put America First”. He threatens to scrap existing trade deals. Abandon the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) a 12-nation trade deal brokered by President Obama and representing 40% of the world’s economic output. Is this protectionist or patriotic?

Not so long ago President Obama said that the UK would be at the back of the queue when trade deals were discussed. Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the USA on January 20th, 2017. Within days he said the UK would be at the front of the queue when trade deals were discussed. This week the U.S. commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, indicated that Striking a trade deal with the UK after Brexit is a low priority for the Trump administration. He cited the upcoming general election and negotiations between the UK and Europe as complicating factors.

WOW! Are you like me, dizzy by the last 12 months political machinations?

The important thing is how will it a affect the way we do business in the U.K. or Europe?
Last month I wrote about Brexit. I still believe this will have a more damaging e ect than the Trump Presidency on U.K. business. For no other reason than the uncertainty that comes with politicians, of whichever persuasion, negotiating anything. But negotiating withdrawal from the E.U. when the E.U. (a coalition of chaos?) is in the mood to punish the U.K. will be a roller coaster of leaks and spin until sometime in 2030 when the final deal will be sorted! Just watch the mess they get into trying to sell a manifesto for the upcoming election! But add in the Trump Presidency and the uncertainty is worrying. Planning is more difficult for business.

So what does a medium sized business like mine do? Panic? Worry? No: we do what we have always done. WE HAVE STRONG AND STABLE LEADERSHIP. We continue to manufacture a world class product and offer great service to our customers. We do this knowing that the macro-economic climate is something we can’t change. Politicians bluster and threaten; they nearly always see sense and realise that stability and good relations are in all our interest. That said we haven’t seen the likes of Donald J Trump before. He hasn’t “drained the swamp” but I have a feeling “Trumpism” will leave quite a mark and even change some of the centuries old political systems that are set up and operate for the benefit of politicians and vested interests only.

If politics delivered on the things that people feel important like health, education and welfare Trump would still be hosting a business show on television not running the world’s most powerful country.

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Our New Premises

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Driving up to Stuncroft’s new premises, the home of Clubclass Corporate Clothing, of 30,000 sq feet you can’t help but be impressed. With over 40-year track record in supplying tailored clothing and currently manufacturing over 2.5m tailored garments per year. Working to the highest ethical standards and with a technical team of 7 Stuncroft stand out from their competitors as an innovative bespoke supplier.

Douglas Bailey, Managing Director of Stuncroft, says: “In June we moved to our brand new office, showroom and warehousing facility in Thorne (close to Doncaster). We are an ambitious business and view the provision of logistics services as a key component of our offer and part of our competitive advantage. Our experience in dealing with all facets of corporatewear as well as the demands of retail clients and the fact we own two large factories has given our business an excellent understanding of logistics and how to best engineer our solutions to create the broadest possible appeal. We are happy to engage a customer on a particular logistics solution which best supports our mutual growth.”

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With 5 collections and over 2 million pounds worth of Clubclass Corporate Wear tailoring in stock all available for delivery within 24 hours, Clubclass are Europe’s leading supplier of Stock Corporate Wear Tailoring. Service, Technical Excellence and Incredible value are the 3 key elements the business builds on.

Stuncroft understand what a client needs and delivers garment solutions to a number of businesses. Douglas Bailey, said: “Stuncroft are primarily garment manufactures with a mature stock solution. Well respected, we are a silent supplier of corporate clothing for many credible brands and retailers, managing stock efficiently and managing the supply chain for special contracts.”

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Providing intelligent solutions to textile sourcing Stuncroft are not just stock service providers, they are a tailoring company who have an in-depth knowledge of fabric, design and technical manufacturing. Striving to keep up to date with the latest trends and giving the best service possible, Stuncroft are pro-active and regularly provide developments in the form of fabrics and garments for review. They say: “We care passionately about our customers and without them we are nothing.”

With the latest fashion trends now prominentin corporate clothing, Douglas, commented on these changes, saying: “There is a rise in demand for fashionable corporate clothing with retail and corporate wear blending into one, but this can only be said for the way the clothing looks and not the way it is made. Retail garments offer incredible value but they are not made for everyday wear in a work environment. All Clubclass Corporate Clothing garments are made to be washed and worn everyday at work. Tested to the highest standards in the industry and with a track record of excellent performance. Trust is one thing you get with a Clubclass garment. Therefore, although the line between the two is fading the way it is tailored is different. Corporate clothing needs to be more durable, this means using technical fabrics with high performance and more sophisticated levels of trim to deliver true performance clothing that looks good for years with little maintenance.”

In the stock supply sector it is clear that changes have been made as fashion becomes more important to buyers and although all three of the companies we visited had many similarities in what they were saying they each had something unique to offer a buyer. Stuncroft are more of a garment solution company who both hold stock, with the Clubclass brand, and produce bespoke tailoring.