Collaborations With Designers Now Important: Pongees

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Collaborations with designers will become even more important, according to silk fabric specialists Pongees managing director, Nick Moore. Four years ago, Pongees moved its London warehouse and offices to larger premises in Dartford Kent, while still retaining a showroom in the capital’s East End. The move has proven even more fortuitous since Coronavirus.

Speaking about online business, Moore said, “We were also building our online sales month on month and wanted to maintain the momentum. At the beginning of lockdown we immediately arranged for our office staff to work from home. We also introduced a rota system for personnel in our warehouse and sample room so that we met the regulations around staff safety but continued business as usual.”

“Once orders declined, it was only sensible to take advantage of the furlough scheme for some of our staff without compromising fulfilling orders. We have been lucky in that our business has not been reliant on supplying the big high street retailers and brands, although we have been caught with unpaid orders from a couple of the businesses that have closed. This has made an immediate dent in our profits, not untypical of what has happened to similar companies,” Moore said in a UKFT press release.

Speaking about designers and brands they work with, Moore said, “Our business has been used to dealing with designers and brands who order little but often and that is where we see the business continuing. We are proactively reaching out to new prospects directly and through social media. While we have concentrated on sales to the fashion, bridal, lingerie, and special occasion wear and interiors sectors, we are now looking to sell more into fabric shops to tap into the increase of home sewers.”

“Many of the UK fabric companies are merchants, not mills, so we are reliant on our suppliers and our sourcing skills. This gives us the flexibility to test new fabrics and keep the collection fresh. Our partnership with Portuguese supplier, SanMartin, is something that we will look to replicate with similar businesses going forward. As buyers and suppliers reduce their travelling time they will need representation in their export markets so that customers have an opportunity to see the range in person as locally as possible,” Moore said.

“Most of the UK silk suppliers offer the same basic fabrics, distinguishing ourselves through depth of colour and variety, quality, price and service. While we are competitive, the current crisis has seen co-operation between businesses, with each other helping out a competitor who has not had the fabric to meet their customer orders due to disruption to deliveries of fabric from overseas mills. It is all our interest to ensure that designers get the fabric they need and keep them ticking over,” Moore added.