Sportswear retailer ends the season on a high

July 7, 2021

Sportswear retailer ends the season on a high

An independent sportswear retailer is set to end the season on a high, as it continues to invest in its North East head office and store.

Total Sport North East, which was founded in 2006 by directors Darren Grant and Keith Reiling, is looking to create new jobs and expand its manufacturing arm ahead of next season, after investing in new machinery and equipment.

The move follows a difficult year for the company, as Covid-19 restrictions had serious implications for the retail business, both for sportswear sales and Total's growing Total Schoolwear subsidiary.

Initially based out of a small retail unit on Hylton Road, on the outskirts of Sunderland City centre, Total Sport NE now occupies an 11,500 sq ft unit on Hendon Road, boasting a public-facing showroom and a printing and embroidery division.

This has resulted in the company owning two successful brands, the second of which - Total Schoolwear - now works with 30 schools and colleges across the North East and has proven a huge success over the past year.

Darren said: "The last 12 months have been a real rollercoaster ride for us. When the pandemic hit and sporting events across the country were cancelled, we saw a real slump in sales for our core sportswear range. During lockdown we relied on our online sales and Click and Collect service.

"However, when Covid measures were eased and children returned to classrooms, the rule of having to wear fresh PE kits and uniforms every day sparked a surge in demand for our schoolwear and PE kits."

Demand for schoolwear proved so high that it led to Total Sport running all of its machines at full capacity during the second half of 2020.

"We reached the point towards the end of 2020 when our machines were running non-stop and we fast became aware that, if we were going to continue growing the Total Schoolwear brand when we bounced back, then we'd need to put our money where our mouth was," he added.

"This led to us being introduced to the business investment team at Sunderland City Council, and the team helped us investigate how we could best utilise our space to increase production and how we could tap into the support required to invest in new machinery.

"Not only did this help us increase production and take on new clients for the school wear business, but it has also led to the creation of three new jobs, as we approach the start of the new school year and football seasons.

"There's no hiding from the fact that the last year has been an incredibly testing period for us, but we're proud of the resilience our team has shown and our ability to safeguard jobs in Sunderland. Our investment plans mean that we are excited to see what the future holds for the company."

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "Total Sport is a fantastic success story for the City and is testament to the incredible resolve our independent businesses have shown over the past 12 months.

"We're proud to have been able to support them on their journey and would encourage any business seeking advice and support on starting or growing a business in the City to get in touch and find out more about the support on offer."