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Barrow sets an Example: introducing Paul Commons


Examples arrived in Barrow in 2008 when Paul Commons moved to the Sileby Road Industrial Estate and built up a fascinating business for the production of uniforms of all sorts.

I first came upon it when I delivered Paul’s Barrow Voice. I popped my head into the factory and saw a battery of very modern machines all simultaneously embroidering the Humphrey Perkins logo onto school polo shirts.

I’ve often wondered how this embroidery was achieved... rows of workers ( female of course) all busy with flying needles? No, of course not. These are complex sewing machines that operate computerised instructions, very fast and very accurately and with a minimum of supervision.

Paul is busy building up this side of his business (he also sells office stationery to other businesses). He produces uniforms and personalised objects of all sorts from football strips, corporate fleeces, club sweatshirts, and safety clothing to embroidered bagpipe bellows, baby’s named blankets, personalised karate belts and golf clubs and named dog coats... there’s an idea for a Christmas present! But it is school uniforms where he sees a really big market opportunity.

Paul’s production of uniforms is unique in the UK in that every stage of the process is carried out in house instead of being subcontracted out. The consequence of this is that he can sell high quality garments at very competitive prices. Parents can call at the factory so that uniforms can be tried on or they can make internet purchases. He makes the uniforms of 22 local schools.

I went back to the factory to learn more and was shown other amazing machines including one that ‘paints’ on a logo using a mechanical version of silk screen printing that is not that different from the way I used to do it at BOSCAPS. But, of course, it does it much faster and doesn’t make the sort of hideous mess that I did. The logo is computer-generated as are the transfers that are another way of achieving an image on fabric.

It’s reassuring to know that Barrow isn’t being left out when it comes to modern technology and it is also pleasing that Paul thinks it worthwhile advertising his uniforms in Barrow Voice. Make sure you tell him that you’ve read this article!
Judith Rodgers