Selling clothes had been in the genes of sportswear distributor Broder Bros. for years. Begun as a haberdashery in 1919, the company evolved from making hats and gloves into a leading distributor of imprintable sportswear, distributing about 1,100 products under 40 retail brands, including adidas Golf, Champion, alternative, and Dickies, and private labels; it operates under the Broder, Alpha, and NES divisions. Its private labels include Devon & Jones, Chestnut Hill, and others. Customers, mostly small US retailers, order merchandise through seasonal catalogs or online. Private investment firm Bain Capital has held a majority interest in the company since 2000, when the Broder family sold the company.
In general, Broder Bros. clients include advertising specialty companies, screen printers, embroiderers, and specialty retailers that purchase Broder Bros. products (blank T-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts, outerwear, caps, bags, and more) to embellish for their own clients. Broder Bros. distributes popular brands such as Anvil, Jerzees, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Gildan.
Broder Bros. has seen its business pick up on the heels of a tough selling environment. One way it has turned its business around is by ensuring that it had in stock the most popular products while it rebuilt its inventory of proprietary brands. It also strengthened its commitment not to be undersold by rivals. To ensure that its dozen distribution centers were bustling with business, Broder Bros. also recruited a senior sales and marketing executive to review and fine-tune how the company sells its products, help to decide which product assortment is ideal going forward, and figure out how to attract a wider customer base from the imprintable sportswear market.
As a result of a credit crunch due to a weakened US retail economy and declined demand for its higher-priced products, Broder Bros. struggled in 2008 and 2009 to make ends meet. The company turned to its primary customers for steady revenue and slimmed down its operating costs by purging staff and renegotiating some of its leaseholds. Altogether the T-shirt distributor made employee cuts, including about 140 jobs in its distribution and call centers and some management positions. The company, which caters to some 70,000 customers, relies on a handful of suppliers such as Gildan, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom.
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