Interview with Tom Lovelace

Face2Face
Tom Lovelace
Tom Lovelace
Founder & Chief Creative Officer
Hawthorn International
Hawthorn International

What percentage of your products are exported and what percentage consumed in the domestic market?

We work with customers all over the world, however most of our business is with UK based brands. Around 70 per cent of our business is with brands in the UK, with the other 30 per cent being the rest of the world.

Which are your major export markets?

We have worked with brands across most continents, including North America, Africa, Europe, Scandinavia and Australia.

Where are your manufacturing facilities based?

We have several manufacturing facilities, which are all based overseas. We have chosen locations which are most suitable for each type of product and have extensively developed our supply chain for maximum quality, customisation and efficiency. Our main manufacturing facilities are based in Pakistan, Turkey and China.

What are the most important things you concentrate on at any point of time, to manage customer expectations?

The expectations of start-up brands can be varied, since some of our customers have experience in the fashion industry and some do not. However, we work with our customers to manage their expectations by providing samples and offering revisions if required. The most focused on areas by a customer are usually quality and lead time, so these are things which we always like to concentrate on excelling at. 

Our supply chain is extremely agile, since we have set ourselves up to be able to produce fully custom goods. This means we rarely are unable to fulfil a customer request if it falls into our areas of specialism. To ensure our customers are fully aware of the processes during production, we keep them updated via email and telephone and always send images throughout so that they are aware of the manufacturing stages.

Is Brexit or the US-China trade war having any major impact on the clothing industry of UK?

Although Brexit has been on the horizon since the 2016 referendum, the industry has continued to grow steadily in the UK. Whether or not there are any ramifications now that we have left the EU, and are in the transitional period remains to be seen however, but the industry has had enough time to prepare for this and most retailers and brands have made contingency plans to reduce the impact. The US-China trade war doesn't seem to be having much of an impact just yet from our side of the industry, but anything which affects worldwide supply chains like this needs to be monitored closely which we will continue to do.

In terms of HR, how easy or difficult is it to get the right skill sets? What is the help/ initiatives at the government/ private level to impart the necessary skills and lure new talent?

As our manufacturing takes place overseas, our experience of recruitment for talented individuals has been limited to designers. There are many aspiring designers in the UK, and this means there is no shortage of talent when required. There are many fashion universities in the UK, and these are popular with those who want to move in to working in the industry.

Going forward, how do you want to expand your business?

We have established ourselves as a start-up specialist, however there are many other industries who could benefit from the services we provide. We already work with several larger brands, but in the future, we plan to work with more of these to expand into new areas. (PC)
Published on: 07/02/2020

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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