Eribe Knitwear has gone from small, crafty beginnings to a company with a global reach. We helped them along the way, but it's the company's innovative approach to designing truly desirable products that holds the key to their success.
Giving Scottish hand-knitted clothing a design-led makeover, Eribe produces everything from Winter-proof Fair Isle jumpers to neon-flecked yokes for the first moments of Spring. The products are stocked in shops across the world, from New York and Paris and Milan to stores in Russia and Japan.
How did they get there?
Founder and managing director Rosemary Eribe knew her company had great products and real potential to grow, but she needed help to manage that growth – from ICT support to getting the right people and training.
To help this cottage industry go global, Scottish Enterprise provided support in three main areas: finding the right ICT, hiring and training people, and networking. Eribe have been working with SE account manager Dougal Stewart since 2009, during which time their turnover has doubled.
Rosemary explains how Scottish Enterprise support has helped her company to grow: “In order to grow, we have had to learn so much more about modern business methods, including exporting, management, leadership and training. Scottish Enterprise has really helped us and provided access to the training we’ve needed as we’ve learnt about these new areas of our business. The introductions that have been made have helped us to feel that we’re part of a wider business community that works together for the good of the industry.
So what exactly did we do?
An expanding order book
The first hurdle for Eribe was finding a way to cope with a big increase in orders. In order to manage a large network of knitters as well as keep an eye on quality, deadlines, and delivery, the company needed customizable systems for customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
The Scottish Enterprise ICT support service provided guidance on the range of systems available, and helped Eribe to reach a decision on the right one for the business.
Hiring the right people…
Not everything can be fixed with a new computer system. As the company expanded, it became obvious that new roles would need to be filled: Eribe needed a production coordinator to oversee the process, to manage everything from warp and weft to woolly hat. And to meet the global demand for their products, they needed an updated website.
…and training them
Dougal Stewart helped Rosemary get access to training – both for her staff and herself. She took part in the Leadership for Growth programme, and has implemented an appraisal process to provide detailed feedback and identify skills gaps among her staff. With this feedback, she can identify areas that her team might need training in: anything from business management, branding, and sales to the nitty-gritty legal aspects of running a business.
Forging a global network, finding a local one
With the business in ship-shape for shipping products to the world, the next step to growth was making global contacts and exploring new markets. Eribe joined Scottish Development International on several overseas trips, and the company took advantage of the detailed reports that SDI offer on the various market opportunities.
Rosemary also got in contact with textiles professionals across Scotland – joining trade bodies and networking groups to foster a deeper sense of community in a thriving industry.
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