Interview with Diane Simpson

Face2Face
Diane Simpson
Diane Simpson
Sales Director
A W Hainsworth & Sons
A W Hainsworth & Sons

We are seen as an enhancer to promote quality

Hainsworth has been responsible for weaving the look of Iconic England ever since the company was established in 1783. Diane Simpson, Sales Director, A W Hainsworth & Sons ltd, talks about the rich heritage of the company, its key strengths and changes as observed in the woolen fabrics market through the years.

What is the market size of woollen fabrics in UK? How does it compare to rest of the world market?

As you know, we are in many different market segments so the answer to this question could be quite large, but if we are focusing on fashion specifically, we know as a business that our market is not going to be considerably in volume because we are very much a high end luxury brand with a high price point. We work through smaller fashion designers within the UK who have origination and something which is a little bit different to offer than mass market. So, our business can be smaller couture but on the other hand, we do attract larger brand labels for the history and provenance we bring to the product. We are seen as an enhancer to promote quality.

Being in the woollen fabrics business for more than 230 years is quite a feat. What are your strengths that have kept you going so far?

We have adapted to the changing markets. We very much fit into a niche bracket whereby we use our technical knowledge and expertise to make products that are innovative and offer a differentiation. We benefit from being totally vertical. This allows us to control the process and innovation throughout.

What changes have you observed in the woollen fabrics niche through the years? What according to you are the key trends of current times?

We have observed an increasing high level of standards, the benchmarks forever changing to meet the criteria that other mass market suppliers cannot provide easily or consistently. We are also adapting to be more sustainable for the future, future proofing product and processes.

Who are your biggest competitors in the woollen fabrics market? What differentiates your products from the others?

We are always mindful of the Asian markets, but to be honest, we are number one in our field. To have the right product and lead the market, is always our preferred position.

Which are your major markets? What percentage of your revenue comes from exports?

60 per cent of our turnover comes from overseas. Our largest markets are China, Canada, Europe and the US.

Which are your best-selling products?

I am pleased to say this varies from year to year. All our markets have an uncanny knack of complimenting each other, some years we have a boost in protective clothing due to cycle of contracts; other years, ceremonial and some years a boost in fashion. We have markets that are steady and consistent throughout the year that tend to be easier to plan and produce for and therefore we don't tend to have lulls in our production.

Within your own market, what is the offtake of fabrics? Has it been on the upswing?

Markets of potential growth are interiors, fashion and protective clothing.

Is the fabric from Hainsworth also retailed through shops online? Please share details and the growth story.

We don't tend to sell online specifically, only the blankets. But we don't intend to compete with our retail partners, i.e only confirm a price point and have a presence.
Published on: 05/03/2020

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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