Otago Daily Times

Uni­form Group opens first shop in Dunedin

- JA­COB MCSWEENY Dunedin · University of Miami · Philadelphia Union · Otago Region · Kaikorai Valley College

THERE is a new school uni­form shop in town.

The Uni­form Group, which now has 11 shops through­out the coun­try, has opened its first Dunedin shop in Filleul St and will of­fer uni­forms for sev­eral ma­jor Dunedin schools.

The U Shop of­fi­cially opens on Mon­day next week, but cus­tomers have started to trickle in al­ready as the doors are open and the store is staffed and stocked.

Uni­form Group di­rec­tor Adele Gordon said it op­er­ated a small shop at Ka­vanagh Col­lege for about a year when H&J Smith, a ma­jor uni­form sup­plier, an­nounced it would be leav­ing the city in Jan­uary.

‘‘This op­por­tu­nity has arisen with H&J [Smith] de­part­ing . . . we’ve looked at it and thought with the num­ber of schools that they were sell­ing to we could make an on­site re­tail shop work­able, vi­able and of­fer the cus­tomer ser­vice that we wanted to achieve,’’ Ms Gordon said.

Uni­form Group vis­ited the schools H&J Smith had sold to pre­vi­ously and put its pro­posal for­ward: a lo­cal re­tail shop of­fer­ing school uni­forms that also sup­ported lo­cal sup­pli­ers where they could.

Af­ter ‘‘test­ing the waters’’ with the schools, it de­cided to go ahead with the plan but needed suit­able premises be­fore it could ad­vance plans with the schools.

The Filleul St site was leased by Baby City un­til Au­gust, but that re­tailer left the city and the lease be­came avail­able.

‘‘We looked at the size and the po­si­tion. Park­ing was very im­por­tant to us in or­der for peo­ple to come in — it’s not some­thing you can stop for five min­utes and whizz in and whizz out.’’

It has sev­eral car parks be­hind the shop and it is big­ger than most of its other stores around the coun­try.

Af­ter the lease was signed Uni­form Group wasable to go back to the schools and ad­vance talks with them.

It also co­or­di­nated with H&J Smith to pur­chase stock that was still cur­rent and what schools wanted to carry on with.

What is in the store now is a mix­ture of that stock and what Uni­form Group has been able to sup­ply it­self.

They have uni­forms for Ka­vanagh Col­lege, Columba Col­lege, Kaiko­rai Val­ley Col­lege, Bal­macewen

In­ter­me­di­ate, Lo­gan Park High School, Otago Boys’ High School and John McGlashan Col­lege.

Ms Gordon said Uni­form Group would be heav­ily in­volved with the man­u­fac­ture of uni­forms and their stock would re­plen­ish the store as the for­mer H&J Smith stock sold out.

‘‘We work di­rectly with out sources in fac­to­ries. We con­trol the fab­rics, we con­trol the qual­ity, we con­trol the fin­ish of the gar­ment . . . we have quite a strin­gent qual­ity­con­trol process that we go through in or­der to get the gar­ments into the shop or to the cus­tomer.’’

They are now fo­cus­ing on ‘‘back­to­school’’ sales as they ap­proach the new school year.

Uni­form Group be­gan in 1991 and has al­ways spe­cialised in school uni­forms, but be­fore 2008 it also sold uni­forms to sev­eral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.

 ?? PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON ?? Red or green? Uni­form Group di­rec­tor Adele Gordon in­side the new U Shop that opens on Mon­day.
PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON Red or green? Uni­form Group di­rec­tor Adele Gordon in­side the new U Shop that opens on Mon­day.

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