Glenbrae spins a yarn for knitwear

    Glenbrae is the knitwear brand of Spectrum Yarns Ltd based in Slaithwaite, one of the old woollen mill towns in the Colne Valley, West Yorkshire. Andrew Jones, Glenbrae’s general manager, told Glyn Pritchard what differentiates the brand for retailers.

    The Glenbrae brand has been established for about twelve years and its success has much to do with the heritage and quality of the manufacturing processes as Jones explains. “We are yarn spinners and we control every part of the process including knitting, dyeing, embroidery and hand finishing. The result is quality knitwear that we back with service and full support for the retailer.”

    SquadronleaderBut in an age of increasing use of technical performance fabrics and more big sports brands offering golfing apparel, is there still a place for traditional knitwear? “We say there is room in the market for both. Some knitwear brands have responded to the challenge by dumbing down, with prices and deals. But we believe modern knitwear can be contemporary and we aim to dominate the quality end of the market. Wool is naturally breathable with great thermal qualities. Our Spirol yarn adds expansion and shape retention. So what we are offering is not just a V-necked jumper, but technology, style and quality backed with service.”

    Spirol is Glenbrae’s own proprietary trademarked yarn which blends wool with a synthetic fibre to produce a technical yarn that stretches and retains its shape because of the parallel fibres. “Spirol has some terrific qualities. It is machine washable, yet it resists pilling and retains a natural softness for the life of the garment”, Jones confirms. The company buys its wool from Australia and New Zealand, including the increasingly popular merino wool. “Merino is recognised as lightweight, pliable with a luxurious feel and we are seeing a lot of demand for the styling and colours we offer.”

    Jones believes it is crucial to educate retailers so they can communicate the benefits of knitwear. “We have to challenge the misconceptions of retailers and customers about knitwear. We want to help golf pros and other golf retailers to communicate the benefits of knitwear to their customers. Members will say to their pro, ‘I don’t want lambswool’, based on a past experience of an inferior quality garment. But our high quality knitwear has a completely different feel based on technology and advanced yarn spinning. We have to get that message across to the pros so that they can share that knowledge with their members.”

    Jones is from a sports retail background and says that Glenbrae has devised a new marketing programme to help retailers sell knitwear. “It’s called ‘Backsell’ and the emphasis is on helping the golf pro with the sales process. We believe that showing our commitment to the golf pro means that he or she will support the Glenbrae brand. Merchandising and in-store display is a critical part of that support process.”

    Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 11.45.41Glenbrae is looking to expand its retail channel, says Jones. “We want to supply the right retailers, ones that understand our brand proposition. The customer then has a better understanding of why the pro has chosen Glenbrae to carry their club crest and what Glenbrae can offer that other brands can’t.”

    Although he emphasises Glenbrae’s strong relationships with on-course retailers, Jones says that off-course golf shops are part of the retail channel strategy. “We will support both on-course and off-course retailers – if they are the right retailers. They have to understand the brand, what it represents and have the right merchandising skills.”

    Asked to define the ‘right retailers’, Jones elaborates: “There are a number of retailers in the top echelon that we aspire to work with, but we’re not interested in the value sector. We are looking for accounts that appeal to what I would call ‘middle Britain’. Glenbrae will complement their existing portfolio because we specialise only in knitwear and shirts. We don’t diversify into trousers, footwear and so on – we aim to be the very best at one thing. So if you want to offer your customers a premium knitwear brand, we want to have that conversation with you”

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    Jones says shirts have been added to the Glenbrae range in response to retailer demand. “We offer bespoke embroidery and many of our retailers rely on us for their club crested apparel. They wanted a crested shirt to complement our jumpers so it was a natural progression for us to add quality cotton polo shirts to the range.”

    Summing up Jones emphasises the good margins and demand for quality knitwear. “With footfall down and margins squeezed on hardware, quality knitwear can generate a good level of profit for golf pros. And we back the Glenbrae brand with strong service and support for our retailers.”