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Expert Retail Advice

Your Questions answered by West Yorkshire Spinners

Ask the Expert

Richard Longbottom, Sales and Marketing Manager of West Yorkshire Spinners, answers your retail queries...

Q How would stocking West Yorkshire Spinners' range benefit my business?

Being one of the last remaining Worsted Spinners left in the UK means that we have total control of the products we develop and manufacture. We source and purchase all our raw materials which enables us to pass savings on to our stockists. It has always been our philosophy that using the best quality raw materials is of great importance, but also the technical specification is critical to ensure a superior quality yarn.

We do all the research and development for new products and shade ranges in house; this process can take several runs until we have the desired finish. We often have grade A product remaining that doesn't make it into our range which we can offer as exclusives to our stockists at a reduced price.

We also don't have a minimum order level, as we strongly believe that the retailer knows their business better than anyone. Imposing minimum orders is not good for our stockists as they know how much they can sell and being forced to carry large stocks can be a problem both for the cash flow of the business and the space for storage.

Q How can I promote the West Yorkshire Spinners range to my customers?

The fact that we are one of the few remaining British manufacturers still remains a huge selling point, however, once customers have used our products, the usability, durability and quality of our yarns has become equally as important. As we have control of the entire manufacturing process, we can ensure the quality of the finished product is up to our exacting standards.

Q What are the core, must-stock West Yorkshire Spinners products that I should have in my shop?

We have an ever expanding range of products to suit all budgets and tastes – here are just a couple of our most popular.

Our 100% Bluefaced Leicester range is a superb example of what British Wool has to offer. This luxurious wool is often referred to as the British Merino because of its unparalleled softness and handle. Offering clear stitch definition and drape to each individually handcrafted garment, this yarn has been awarded the British Wool Marketing Board Platinum Award as a mark of superior quality and traceability. As a company, West Yorkshire Spinners buy a large amount of the annual clip of Bluefaced Leicester, again allowing us to pass savings on and offer this stunning yarn at a fantastic price to our stockists.

Our Signature 4 Ply range has been fantastically popular, not only for the stunning range of colour groups but also for the soft handle and blend of 75% wool – 25% nylon. What makes this range extra special is that the wool content contains 35% luxurious Bluefaced Leicester, making this one of the most sumptuous 4 Ply products on the market. It is available in a range of vibrant colour groups; Sweet Shop, Spice Rack and Country Birds.

Tell us a little history about the company.

West Yorkshire Spinners was set up in 1997 in Oxenhope, which is a small village outside of Keighley.

In 2002, the factory was moved to Dalton Lane, Keighley. Due to an ever increasing demand for our products, in 2011 we moved the factory again to the present site at Unit 2, Airedale Park, Keighley. This building is very modern and has allowed us to completely re-organise the layout of the plant. New machinery has been purchased, which makes West Yorkshire Spinners one of the most efficient and productive plants in its field.

For many years, the core business specialised in spinning for various customers. We made the decision two years ago to launch our own brand of hand knitting products, mainly to supply the domestic market in the UK. Since the brand's inception, the popularity of our products has grown significantly. We believe that knowing where our raw material comes from guarantees that the quality of the finished product is consistently high. From selecting the finest breeds to creating exquisite yarns, we are British through and through.

How has the industry changed since West Yorkshire Spinners first launched?

The knitting industry has changed dramatically over the years. Hand knitting used to be more of a necessity but today's market is influenced by fashion, art and hobby. I'm so enthused to see where the market is today, as there is a real mix of young and established knitters involved. The level of skill and creative vision is world class. This is a special and unique industry and we must do all we can to nurture it and promote its growth.

What support do you offer retailers who stock your products?

Our retailers are very important to us. We made a decision early on to employ sales representatives who 'know knitting' and can speak to our customers with confidence about the benefits of our products, having knitted with them time and time again. This ethos also spreads to the office staff who have a good knowledge and passion for knitting and our products – it is important for our stockists to know they can pick up the phone at any time and ask any member of our staff for advice on our product range. In the past year we've really enjoyed providing tours of our production facilities. We have received fantastic feedback from our customers on these visits, many never having seen the process from start to finish before. We are more than happy to offer this to any of our stockists who have the time to come to Yorkshire and see us.

How important do you feel this support is to the relationship between West Yorkshire Spinners and the retailers that you supply to?

The relationship between West Yorkshire Spinners and our retailers is paramount. This is why we strive to offer as much guidance and support as possible. As I have mentioned, we have enjoyed exceptional levels of repeat sales of our products and I firmly believe that this is a combination of selecting the finest raw materials and also having the knowledge to create yarns with superior technical specification. Knitters invest a great deal of time in their craft and we feel it is our duty to manufacture products of the highest quality which will stand the test of time.

What plans do you have to build on the support you offer your retailers in the future?

As our business and products have grown in popularity, we have identified that we need to ensure we have a full complement of sales staff who have the expertise required to be able to visit our customers on site on a regular basis and advise on the best products to suit their needs. We have recently been through an extensive recruitment program and are now delighted to welcome these new members of staff to our team.

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