Gildan, the vertically integrated manufacturer of branded basic apparel, listed on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, is one of the world’s largest producers of T-shirts and socks. Gildan has been operating in Barbados for 11 years and is a leading example of the potential of Barbados as a base for business.
As Mike Hoffman, President, explains, “We are in Barbados for all the right reasons. The infrastructure is in place, there is a highly educated workforce, the environment is pro-business, and the commitment of the people in Barbados is a key factor in our success. We complement the island and the island complements us.” Mike Hoffman goes on to further explain that Gildan’s activities include everything from buying raw cotton to manufacturing to packaging and distributing its finished products.
During Gildan’s time in Barbados, the company has been able to achieve the leading market share position in North America in all of its core activewear categories; t-shirts, fleece, polo shirts and socks. These ‘blank’ apparel products are marketed through a dedicated network of wholesale distributor partners for use in various decorative applications such as screen-printing and embroidery. Boasting #1 in the industry is no easy feat, and as such Gildan is currently expanding its portfolio to include men’s and boys’ underwear.
Gildan employs 145 people in its Barbados office which accounts for €895 million (US$1.25 billion) in annual sales. Mike Hoffman points out, “We are not just any offshore company; we manage our entire business from Barbados. We set pricing and conclude contracts here, make our forecast projections, buy our products, and handle all other sales and marketing activities for our company. Everything we need to do business is here in Barbados.” As a result, the company plans to expand its facilities on the island. Focused on setting the standard in Barbados as in all of its markets, Gildan is known for its corporate social responsibility projects and for its adherence to stringent environmental protection standards.
Mike Hoffman explains that Europe is a growing market where Gildan has approximately 10% market share, distributes to 25 countries, and is the company’s fastest growing market. “I would be disappointed if we did not double or even triple our presence in Europe over the next five years, given our aggressive growth plans as a company,” Mike Hoffman says.
Gildan is currently looking into expanding it distribution capabilities in Europe and establishing a new distribution centre there. The company already has a warehouse in the UK and Belgium. “The only thing that has limited our growth in Europe is not enough capacity and lack of product availability to meet the demand,” Mike Hoffman says.
As for Barbados, Gildan is there to stay.