Back to School is Big Business for Magherafelt Firm

KK Model, a Magherafelt company specialising in uniforms for up market schools throughout the British Isles, is bucking current trends which have led to the closure or downsizing of many other Northern Ireland clothing manufacturers.

The family-run company, which has been in the tailoring business for over 40 years and currently employs 14 people, has achieved year-on growth of 38 per cent over the past three years, following a strategic decision to focus its resources on the development of uniform garments for independent schools.

KK Model, which has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland’s North West Local Office (NWLO) in Derry, is currently working at full stretch to meet the market demand for its branded garment range that includes bespoke blazers, trousers, skirts, pinafores, dresses and overcoats.

As a result of its marketing focus, KK Model has been successful in winning orders from leading uniform retailers and individual schools, particularly in Great Britain, which now contributes to almost 40 per cent of its business.

Among ‘top notch’ schools which have recently signed up to source uniforms from KK Model are North London Collegiate, London Oratory and Haberdasher’s. KK Model’s client portfolio also includes most of Northern Ireland’s leading grammar schools, says Mona Houston, the company’s marketing director.

“Our decision to focus our tailoring resources and experience on a niche market – uniforms for grammar and independent schools – was influenced by participation on an Invest NI marketing awareness programme.

“This involved extensive desk research and a series of visits to identify market requirements and competitors. The research into the sector showed that we had the experience and capabilities needed to be competitive, especially in terms of our customer focus.

“We’ve also enhanced our competitiveness by developing a fast response service and a close working relationship with our key accounts. This enables us to provide the quality and customised garments they need when they require them. We also maintain our profile in the market by taking part in key trade shows,” adds Mrs Houston.

Kevin Helferty, Invest NI’s NWLO manager, says: “KK Model is a good example of how a small clothing company can compete successfully through the application of the type of niche marketing and customer focused activities recommended in the action plan for the Northern Ireland textiles and clothing industry produced by Kurt Salmon Associates.

“Assisting companies to grow by investing in marketing is also an integral part of the North West Action Plan’s focus on promoting business growth.

“As part of the sharper focus on marketing from participation in the Invest NI programme the company is now developing and supporting its own unique ‘Pencil’ branded range of garments. Invest NI is also working alongside the company to encourage the continued growth of the business,” he adds.

The company supplies bespoke uniform garments through distributors and directly to a number of leading schools.