County Durham clothing supplier Workwear Express wins contract

Contract wins have lifted the customer base at the County Durham company by 2,000 a month

Andrew Ward, managing director of Workwear Express Ltd

Corporate clothing supplier Workwear Express is on its way to doubling turnover to £20m within three years after accruing new customers at the rate of 500 per week.

The County Durham business, which makes printed and embroidered uniforms for Xerox, Tesco and Greggs, has built a 50,000-strong client base through securing a clutch of new contracts in the corporate clothing, leisure and events markets.

Based in Belmont, the firm had previously grown its customer base by around 1,300 a month, but recent figures have shown that figure has risen to 2,000, which translates into an extra £200,000 of revenue each month.

The company already produces more than 60,000 embroidered logos and 40,000 prints each week from its state-of-the-art factory, which runs 24 hours a day.

The upward trend is part of a longer-term plan at Workwear to increase turnover from £10m to £20m by 2018.

Andrew Ward, managing director and founder of Workwear, said: “In recent years our customer base has diversified massively and now contains schools, nurseries, retail stores and charities.

“Our core business is still the corporate clothing market, where we supply branded uniforms to companies such as Sage, John Lewis and Carphone Warehouse, but we’ve also won a lot of work in the events and leisure markets.

“That has allowed us to ramp up production, grow revenues and take on more staff.

“We now have 100 people working at our headquarters in Belmont and there is scope to increase headcount further as we embark on the next stage of our growth.”

Andrew Ward of Workwear Express, left, with Peter Bartley of Bradley Hall
Andrew Ward of Workwear Express, left, with Peter Bartley of Bradley Hall

Read more: Business Interview: Andrew Ward of Workwear Express

As revealed in a recent interview with The Journal, Mr Ward switched the firm’s focus to create a thriving e-commerce business in 2008 after losing a major client that accounted for 35% of its business.

He invested an initial £10,000 into web technology, and has since transformed Workwear into a slick online operation – a shift which proved to be the catalyst for significant growth.

Turnover has more than trebled since 2009 and national and international contracts have been won, with orders flooding in from Australia, the Middle East, China and Europe.

The company’s core market, the uniform and corporate clothing sector, offers huge potential for future growth; Workwear’s £10m annual sales represent less than 2% of the UK market, which is estimated to be worth around £640m. The company also has the opportunity to grow revenues exponentially by replicating its UK business model in European countries.

Mr Ward said: “We don’t target sectors in particular and I think we’re only just scratching the surface of the potential market here in the UK, let alone further afield. There’s huge potential for further growth.”

Aside from its success in the corporate clothing market, Workwear produces promotional T-shirts, bags, baseball caps, scarves and umbrellas for the leisure industry and has won large volumes of work from universities, societies and clubs.

It stocks well-known brands such as Magnum Footwear, Nike and Caterpillar and has received orders from Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

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