Swimwear company is a global success with nearly $1 million in govt funding
Jessika Allen says that one of the first things she can remember is a yellow gingham check swimsuit, complete with pom-poms, she wore when she was four years old. “By the time I was eight,” she says with a laugh. “I’d progressed to a rainbow crochet bikini.”
After obtaining her degree in Fashion Design and Textiles, and furthering her education with a course in Tailoring at Milan’s Istituto Marangoni, she began designing her own swimwear, inspired by her love of art, history and different cultures.
In 2001, Jessika and her husband, Adrian, bought the well-established JETS brand, and almost immediately re-launched it as a premium luxury swimwear label. The designer’s philosophy: “To enhance every woman’s natural curves to create the most flattering silhouette; each piece becomes a unique creation, which looks as if it has been designed especially for you.”
Since then, Jets by Jessika Allen has grown into a popular luxury label worldwide. And the Australian government has played no small part in the company’s success, by providing grants of close to $1 million over the last decade.
“We continually strive to grow. A lot of that growth comes from the integration of technological advancements through R&D processes and the employment of digital workflow and digital textile development,” Adrian told AusIndustry. “AusIndustry grants have enabled Jets to continually improve and innovate through design development and research.”
Swimwear’s characteristic skimpiness belies the technology behind it. It takes a lot of research and development to make something look good, wear well wet and dry, and – well, stay on. And a designer’s unique stamp and intellectual property are at the core of the brand; they must be protected.
Jets has received money from the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Strategic Investment Program (The program has now been replaced by the Clothing and Household Textile [Building Innovative Capability], or BIC, scheme – a $112.5 million scheme aimed at fostering the development of a sustainable and internationally competitive clothing and household textile manufacturing and design industry in Australia, by providing incentives to promote innovation and associated investment.)
“The funds have helped us secure hardware improvements to maintain and encourage continued growth in design processes within Australia,” Adrian told AusIndustry.
Australian automotive suspension company Pedders has translated Australia’s unique conditions into competitive advantage, taking its products and expertise to the world – including the automotive industry’s heartland – the USA.
Founded in 1950 as a backyard welding business, three generations of the Pedders family have steered the company’s growth to manufacture, distribute and install its automotive suspension products in Australia through a chain of 116 outlets of franchised, company owned stores and authorised dealers. Pedders also exports to Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, China, South Africa, Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand and many Middle Eastern regions.
The path to the US market opened through contacts made at the SEMA automotive show at Las Vegas in 2002, who alerted the company to a niche opportunity in the US high-performance car market. Pedders entered into a partnership and USA business started slowly, selling its products to just a few dedicated dealers stateside.
At the same time, General Motors (GM) Holden in Australia was exporting its Holden Monaro to the American market as the Pontiac GTO. The strength of the Pedders product range for this vehicle gave them a head start in the market. Pedders became the preferred suspension for this high performance model in the aftermarket. Positive customer feedback set the brand aside from other local brands, working on the strength of the reputation of Australian quality.
Pedders currently has 80 dealers in the USA, and is now working with major WD houses to continue expansion. Chairman, Mr Ron Pedder, who headed the company from 1972 to 2006 said, “The Pedders brand is well known among the high-performance ‘muscle car’ enthusiast community in the USA; and a substantial opportunity is developing in the older 1960s-1980s car market.”
With the growth of the business assured, the company established US representation – forming Pedders USA in 2005, headed in the States by Mr Peter Basica.
During the last four years, Pedders USA has developed significant industry partnerships. A prestigious partnership with GM was formed when Pedders was declared an approved GM fit GMPP for the Camaro and several other GM models. Other exclusive distribution customers include the iconic brands Lingenfelter, Petty and Saleen.
Other highlights for Pedders in the USA included supplying the suspension on legendary USA NASCAR race driver Richard Petty’s Chryslers; and talk show host Jay Leno’s custom Camaro. Pedders has also featured several times on the popular TV program West Coast Customs.
The company’s US presence has meant that products could be marketed through warehouse distributors, as well as individual outlets in the US, with orders fulfilled from products stocked in-market from their warehouse in Texas.
Mr Pedder said the company has achieved other successes, including going from being an unrecognised name in the US to a well-known brand; and weathering the Global Financial Crisis, which saw a loss of half of all US sales in 2009. Mr Pedder said, “It’s still tough two years later, but we had a 30 per cent increase in sales in 2010 and 2011 is shaping up even better.”
Pedders has been supported by Austrade in Australia and the USA. The company is a member of the High Performance Brands cluster in Austrade’s Global Opportunities pilot program, in conjunction with the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association. This cluster works collectively to capitalise on opportunities in the US market for high performance and motorsport products.
And the Australian Government’s Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme allowed Pedders to “take a punt on the US market,” Mr Pedder said, allowing recovery of some of the company’s eligible export promotion costs.
Austrade’s assistance too was invaluable – especially when the company first entered the US market. “Austrade provided essential market intelligence to Pedders, including letting us know who was who and how the market worked,” Mr Pedder said.
The Australian automotive sector generates sales of approximately A$20 billion per year, making it Australia’s sixth largest export earner. The domestic market is relatively small, so like Pedders, many Australian aftermarket suppliers are focussed on overseas opportunities.
Pedders has tailored its product line to international markets. Designed, built, researched and tested in some of Australia’s harshest conditions, the company said this makes its products superior to market competitors, connecting with customer awareness of our country’s rugged conditions. Pedders has also developed specialist off-road original equipment (OE) and lowered vehicle applications especially for overseas markets.
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