Couple take uniform path to be independent

The city centre firm, in Park Road, Peterborough, is trading strongly, profits are up even though net sales have remained about the same as the previous year – a case of smart spending and canny buying – and the couple are developing other services to give added value to the business.

http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk
March 13, 2009

Couple take uniform path to be independent
John Kralevich

There is life after franchising – just ask Barrie and Tracey Compton, owners of Uniforms4All.
Theirs is a good news story in the current downturn on the High Street; their business grew not contracted after "losing" the support of the franchisor.

The city centre firm, in Park Road, Peterborough, is trading strongly, profits are up even though net sales have remained about the same as the previous year – a case of smart spending and canny buying – and the couple are developing other services to give added value to the business.

Until April 2008, it was part of a franchise called National Schoolwear Centres, but this all changed when the franchisor went into administration.

"We had been trading since March 2005 and when the news came through regarding the franchisor, we had to make a decision on which direction our business took," said Barrie.

"Should we grow or give up considering the economic cli- mate?We decided to grow."

After three years with the back-up of the franchise, the couple were on their own. In August 2008, the couple rebranded the business to Uniforms4All.

In September , they launched phase one of their website, www.uniforms4all.co.uk, followed last month by phase two, including an online shop for parents to purchase school uniforms for many schools in the area. Phase three will be completed when other items of general school wear and activity wear become available.

"Uniforms4All is the only place in Peterborough which sells genuine school uniforms all year round," said Barrie.

"For example, we stock the widest choice of boys trousers, in three different fits – slimfit, standard and sturdy."

During their time with National Schoolwear Centres, the couple built up a sizeable customer base and have been given permission to sell uniforms for many primary and secondary schools in the Peterborough area.

They currently have some 25 schools on their books, potentially with about 12,000 children to clothe.

The business is also licensed to sell Scout and Guide Association uniforms, including those of leaders.

They had also learned a number of "lessons" along the way.

"For example, we used to over-order stock, based on the franchise model," said Tracey.

The business firmly believes in offering the ultimate convenience in providing a retail outlet on the High Street along with an online facility.

Another part of the business which is proving popular is an on-site embroidery service for businesses, sports teams, clubs etc. Other services are in the pipeline, including a fitted school shoes service from the end of March.

As well as Tracey and Barrie, there is one other full-time staff member, Steph Wade, plus two Saturday staff, Belinda Moor- house and Alex Forcellati.

But in order to cope with the peak May to August period, staffing will be increased to seven.

"We are proud to be independent and are looking ahead with confidence," added Barrie and Tracey.

Uniforms4All
12 Park Road, Peterborough
Tel: 01733 566631
Web: uniforms4all.co.uk.
e-mail: ku.oc.lla4smrofinu|eirrab#ku.oc.lla4smrofinu|eirrab.

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