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Beyond the Bale : September 2010
When Australian professional golfer Cameron Percy teed off at the British Open this year he was proudly wearing an Australian Merino jumper manufactured in Australia by Aklanda Knitwear. Louie Bafas, the owner of Aklanda, says it was very satisfying to know that Cameron was wearing his company's knitwear as he walked down the fairways of St Andrews, watched by millions of people. "We're very chuffed to see an Australian golfer on the world stage wearing an Australian made jumper of ours," Mr Bafas says. "Australian woolgrowers will be pleased too, knowing that the jumper is made from Australian wool. We love supporting our local farmers and the quality fibre they produce -- we use exclusively 100 per cent Australian Merino wool in our range." FOCUS ON QUALITY A second generation family-run knitwear manufacturing business, Aklanda is based in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, and has been trading since 1985. As it has for many Australian textile manufacturers in recent years, business has been tough for Aklanda due to cheaper imports from countries with low labour costs. However, Mr Bafas says that over the past two or three years, he has sensed his business picking up again. "Imports took half of our business, but the market is coming back. Customers are beginning to realise and appreciate the quality of our knitwear -- something that is sometimes lacking in knitwear manufactured overseas," Mr Bafas says. "Aklanda has built its label as one of the most recognised woollen jumper brands in the country because we understand what our market wants: the best quality 100 per cent Australian Merino wool garments that are machine washable, durable, comfortable and warm to wear. "The secret to our success is our determination to maintain our standards, always keeping in touch with the latest technology and providing high quality knitwear in the latest styles, colours and creative designs. "We get lots of repeat customers and the loyalty is great. We're still running some product lines that we were doing a decade ago, due to popular demand." AKLANDA AND WOOLMARK Aklanda has been a Woolmark licensee from its inception. "The Woolmark logo is recognised by our customers as a symbol of quality, and this aligns very well with Aklanda's commitment to the highest standards," Mr Bafas says. "Woolmark seems to have tightened up its operations in the past few years -- making sure that only products from Woolmark licensed manufacturers, which meet strict performance standards, use the Woolmark logo. It's also good to see the new security measures on their swing tags and labels to stop counterfeiting." Mr Bafas says that, while margins may have got slimmer over the years, he still loves producing top quality garments. "Although I often used to joke to my dad: 'We're making them too good -- they last too long!'" Cameron Percy is a brand ambassador for BuyAustralianMade.com.au which promotes Australian made products and services, making it easy for consumers to find an Australian made alternative. More information: www.aklanda.com www.buyaustralianmade.com.au Customers return to quality Aussie knitwear FAST FACTS l Australian knitwear company Aklanda manufactures garments made from 100 per cent Australian Merino wool. l Business is becoming more buoyant as customers begin to appreciate the quality of the company's Australian made knitwear. l Aklanda has been a Woolmark licensee for over two decades. 8 SELLING MORE WOOL September 2010 BEYOND THE BALE Australian professional golfer Cameron Percy, wearing Australian Merino wool knitwear, tees off during the British Open at St Andrews on July 15. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/WARREN LITTLE K A LANDA