Barnsley business welcomes bad weather

25 January 2011

 
While most people get downcast with bad weather – one business in Barnsley has been jumping for joy at the sight of rain or snow.
 
Children’s outdoor gear manufacturersSpotty Otter have seen demand for their clothes soar this winter – and they have even sold out of some of the range. And the boom in business means the company’s turnover has increased by 50% in a year.
 
Director Stephanie Jones said: “We had already seen a dramatic increase in sales from about September onwards, but when the snow hit at the end of November it went crazy.
 
“Everyone else looks out of the window and says ‘oh no, it’s snowing’, but as soon as the snow falls a big cheer goes up in here.”
 
And it is not just snow that is good for business, rain too is a bonus, as Spotty Otter makes outdoor gear for children for all weathers. The range includes waterproofs, down jackets, fleeces, boots, mittens and UV protected clothing for children from babies to ten-year-olds.
 
The clothes and accessories are available on-line from the Spotty Otter website and through other retailers.
 
Stephanie, a former midwife, and her husband Matthew, an IT expert, set up an on-line shop called Little Trekkers, ten years ago. It sells children and babies outdoor gear. In 2007 they started Spotty Otter and now employ nine people at their premises at Bullhouse Mill, near Penistone.
 
 “We wanted to make hi-spec outdoor clothing for kids, designed with kids in mind. It is not just scaled down adult clothing, it is clothing designed for the real shapes of children.
 
“For example, children’s heads tend to be bigger proportionally than adults, so hoods need to be bigger. We also want the clothing to be fun as well as functional and to last.”
 
Spotty Otter’s success has been helped by Enterprising Barnsley, a business support programme which helps businesses with high growth potential.  The programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also runs networking events and provides office space throughout the borough.
 
“They’ve been a helping hand along the way, acting as a sounding board, giving advice and pointing us in the direction of reliable suppliers,” said Stephanie.
 
“And Enterprising Barnsley are still helping us now – so we are very positive about the future. After all children will always need decent outdoor clothes just for going to school and playing outside. And more and more people are holidaying in Britain and we all know how unpredictable the weather is in this country.”
 
And it is not just the British market that Stephanie and Matthew have their eyes on. They are also looking at selling Spotty Otter products to retailers across Europe, particularly those where the winters are harsher than here.
 
But Stephanie said: “We were in the Czech Republic just before Christmas talking to potential customers and they were laughing that it was actually colder in Britain than over there.”
 
 
NOTE TO EDITORS
 
Stephanie can be contacted on 01226 379777 or at info@spottyotter.co.uk
 
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and University Campus Barnsley. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support. 
 
Additional media contact: Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07910 165 444 or at kate@katebettsmedia.co.uk
 

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