As part of a new sales strategy, O’Neills Sportswear will start to offer schools who are considering a change of sportswear provider the opportunity to visit their factory facilities on a seeing is believing basis.
Having successfully acquired high-profile Rugby League accounts, which include St Helens, Huddersfield Giants and Widnes Vikings, O’Neills offered Warrington Wolves and Catalan Dragons the chance to visit Strabane, something that was seen as a key influence in their decision-making.
A top Premiership Rugby Union club have just paid a visit and plans are in place for one of the UK’s leading universities to follow suit. Brumbies, the Australian Super Rugby franchise, have also experienced the ‘Strabane effect’ and signed with O’Neills for the forthcoming season.
O’Neills have looked to the independent sector for a new Sales Representative and appointed Stuart Hamilton, formerly of King’s School Bruton. Stuart, with over 20 years of experience in the independent sector, will assist New Business Manager Peter Kennedy in developing the education market. He visited the Strabane factory facility in his second week with O’Neills and was massively impressed with what he saw.
“Yes, I was a member of the Sports Department at King’s Bruton and a member of the panel who made the decision to move all our sportswear requirements to O’Neills six years ago, but I also have twin girls at the school who are high achievers in sport.
“They have kit on their back one day, it’s in the washing machine overnight and back on the following day! The longevity and quality of the products has always impressed me. What I had the chance to see for myself was how that product is made.
“After opening boxes sent to the school from O’Neills for years, I was only interested in, for example, counting the garments – were they all there? Were they accurate, e.g. the embroidery, crest and initials? I don’t think there was ever a case when something was wrong and on more than a few occasions, when competing in regional and national competitions, the deliveries would be redirected to hotels or other schools, because the orders had been placed well inside the minimum order timescales and yet, we were looked after.
“The trip to Ireland offered me the chance to see garments being made from the thread to finished product and in the case of bespoke teamwear, it is really amazing what can be done!”
Peter went further mentioning the ‘partnership’ O’Neills have with Independent Coach Education and PADSIS, something that has given O’Neills a unique opportunity to be present at events run under those umbrellas.
“We now have established business links with Blundell’s, Bristol Grammar School, Cathedral Llandaff, Devonport HS for Boys, King’s Bruton, Kingswood Bath, Leehurst Swan, Manchester Grammar School, Park School, Queen Ethelburga’s, Salisbury Cathedral, Sutton Valence plus prep schools like All Hallows, Belmont, Hatherop Castle, Great Walstead, Hazlegrove, King’s Hawford, Perrot Hill, Rose Hill and Walhampton.
“These schools benefit from super-fast lead times that could be as short as two to three days, given we hold stock for quite a few which is ready for dispatch immediately! Standard deliveries would be three to four weeks and those opting for an online shop can rely on goods being delivered direct to the pupils in three to seven days!”
Peter adds: “Stuart and I hopefully provide that additional ‘X factor’, which is experience and knowledge of what schools, colleges and universities require. We cannot take the world to Strabane, but for those with considerable annual spends and who actually deserve a tip-top service, we would offer this as part of our tendering process.”
Don’t hesitate to contact Peter Kennedy or Stuart Hamilton on 01458 448414 for the South of England/Wales, or Paul Berry on 01942 487875 for the North of England/Scotland, for more information.