TFIA Member Spotlight | Charles Parsons & Co.
2015 marks a significant milestone for Charles Parsons & Co., who are celebrating 100 years in the textile industry! We therefore thought it a great time to highlight the amazing journey and achievements of one of our TFIA members. The team over at Charles Parsons & Co were kind enough to share their story with us, we hope you enjoy having a read.
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS
Charles Parsons & Co., a family-owned company established in 1915 by Charles Leslie Parsons, is proudly celebrating its centenary – no mean feat given the sad fate of the majority of Australian textile companies. While others closed, this company has continued to expand and now has over 350 employees and offices around the world, including offices in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, and Fiji.
As Australasia’s leading wholesale supplier of textile products and services, Charles Parsons owes its success to courageous and inspired leadership, visionary entrepreneurship, and superior service. These qualities and values have steered this company through the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the vagaries of supply and demand.
Every successful company has significant milestones marking its journey, and Charles Parsons is no exception. Having survived the economic crisis of the early 1930s, the company continued to flourish under a strong leadership that recognised the need to adapt to a changing world and changing customer needs. This capacity to evolve was, and still is, a major key to Charles Parsons’ success and resilience.
EXPANSION & ACQUISITIONS
In 1915, when the first Charles Parsons bought out his partner clothing manufacturer, Archibald John Hefren, this would be the first of over fifty acquisitions. By the mid-‘50s Charles Parsons had expanded operations into every mainland state. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the company continued to expand and diversify into homeware and interiors, supplying fabrics for drapery upholstery, lining and home furnishings to retailers, designers and manufacturers. These years saw the establishment of Charles Parsons International in Hong Kong, expanding operations into Asia.
In 1988, Charles Parsons acquired Rapee Cushions, today a significant player in the homeware market as a supplier of cushions, napery, outdoor and home furnishings. The subsequent acquisition of KST firmly established Parsons Bedding division, with the Parsons Gainsborough brand becoming synonymous with luxury bedding products and accessories more recently.
In 2006, Charles Parsons’ acquisition of S+R Fashions gave this company the financial backing enabling it to expand into Asia and New Zealand. As a major supplier of women’s fashions, S+R services well-known fashion labels including Sportsgirl, Sussan, French Connection and Seed Heritage. In 2015, the S+R fashions team launched its own women’s on line fashion label LXÉ. Their high quality garments are produced using premium raw materials, and their simple, classic style readily adapts to changing trends in the fashion market. In 2009, Charles Parsons acquired Line 7, an iconic New Zealand wet weather clothing brand with a strong maritime history. Styled in New Zealand, Line 7 offers an extensive range of rural wear, marine wear and casual wear for men and women. Other major acquisitions include Darche in 2012 (Camping equipment). In 2013 Ella Blue was created specialising in Australian craft fabrics, and Eclipse Textiles (Lycra and spandex stretch fabrics) was acquired in 2014.
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
"Charles Parsons is unrivaled in its offerings and can justly claim to have 'everything covered' when it comes to textiles." Charles Parsons & Co.
Charles Parsons has always prided itself on being at the cutting edge, embracing technology and innovation. The company strives to bring the world’s best textile solutions within reach of local partners and customers, tailoring these to their needs. A significant milestone in this company’s history was the establishment of the Charles Parsons Laboratory in the 1960s. Today, this laboratory is an accredited, highly diversified textile testing centre providing services to its own businesses as well as servicing the textile community at large in Australia and New Zealand.
WHERE TO NOW?
According to Chairman, Vicki Parsons, the success of Charles Parsons can be attributed to its uniqueness as a company that has “always tailored global textile creativity and innovation to our clients' needs, striven to build trusted and supportive relationships with industry partners, and managed the business today with an eye to the future: continuing to evolve."
The Charles Parsons group anticipates that it will remain in the forefront of the Australian textile industry. It will continue to evolve, to consolidate existing customer relationships and to invest in expert staff, true to its proud tradition of offering new and innovative products and services to its customers.
We look forward to seeing what comes next for this Australian company and congratulate them on their outstanding achievements in the industry!