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Dramatic growth prospects for Survival Apparel

Outdoor clothing manufacturer Survival Apparel expects to double turnover as exports blossom for the progressive company.

Already established in the marketplace as the manufacturer of the Everwarm brand of thermal clothing, the Christchurch-based company is expanding into the outdoor leisure market with the release of a merino range.

Merino by Survival is expected to help lift the company's present $3 million turnover to $6 million in the next 18 months.

Mary Devine, chief executive of Survival Apparel, said that at present the mix between local and export sales is 40 - 60, but this is expected to grow to 80% exports in 18 months.

"Combine the words merino and New Zealand and you have two hugely sought after commodities in the world marketplace. Initial trials have reinforced our optimism.

"Asia, particularly Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, have shown great interest in the new range. Asians still have a love affair with wool. They want natural fibres, they want quality and they are prepared to pay a premium," she said. Other markets in Germany, Belgium and the United States have already been identified.

"We are also continually working with Merino New Zealand and local manufacturers to enhance the wonderful properties of merino. We are now able to stripe superfine merino, which is a first, while we are looking at ways of mixing it with polyester.

Survival Apparel, established 15 years ago, was purchased last year by Aotea Jones, the investment vehicle of Dunedin businessman Ross Brown. Mary Devine, formerly general manager, international division, for Canterbury International, was appointed late last year.

"The worldwide trend for the last five years in apparel has been towards the outdoors. Nike have introduced their ACG (all conditions gear) and adidas are looking to do the same.

"We see the new Merino by Survival range as complementing our Everwarm range. While Everwarm is aimed at participants in outdoor pursuits, Merino by Survival is also targeting those who do not necessarily participate but who have empathy with that way of life.

"People are remaining active for longer so that increases our audience spread as well," she said.

Other reasons for the anticipated growth are flexibility and speed of turnaround.

"We can do 500 unit minimums and turn the order around in less than six weeks. We do not manufacture our own clothing, instead relying on CMT (cut, make and trim) manufacturers. This helps with our flexibility, but with the great increase in demand we have experienced we are having to throw our manufacturing net more widely. Originally we only used one firm, but we now need three others to keep up.

"It is positive for these firms as well as they have employed new staff and have the confidence to invest in new machinery. Our growth certainly has a multiplier effect and is great for the local economy," she said.

Further information: Mary Devine, ph (03) 353-4444; 021-998-351

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