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Jo Gordon: ‘Make decisions and action new paths forward’


Jo Gordon, founder of the eponymous knitwear brand, explains the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on her business and how she is adapting her focus.

Jo Gordon; Knitwear Designer;

I have been running my company (Jo Gordon) for 25 years and am currently working harder than ever. Juggling keeping the business running, planning ahead for a number of eventualities post lock down and keeping in touch with my customers, yarn suppliers and knitting mills. At the moment, my main concern is the supply chain. Nothing can be made till the yarn mill and knitting mills re-open.

Jo Gordon, knitwear designer

As the sole employee of a limited company, I don’t qualify for any of the government support which is a frustration. It’s great that UKFT is campaigning for companies like mine (as part of ‘The Forgotten Middle’) but right now, my head is saying adapt and make your business work rather than spend energy searching for grants.

For a few years I have been wanting the main earner of the business to be online sales and be selling wholesale to just a few key stores worldwide. So the pandemic has forced me into actioning this now.

At the moment a third of my sales are direct-to-consumer via my online shop and two-thirds come from wholesale accounts to high end stores around the world. I attend the  Autumn/Winter Man/Woman trade shows in Paris and New York and 3 orders out of the 55 orders I took in January and February have been cancelled so far. Keeping customers informed is all I can do just now.

What has been surprising is that my online shop is actually doing better than ever at the moment. Our sales for the first part of this year to date are almost the same as the whole of last year’s.

Jo Gordon

After a massive spring clean of the studio, I did an online sample sale on Easter Monday. I didn’t mark down the prices as much as I would for a physical sample sale and it was the best sample sale I have ever done. In the future my sample sales will always be online.

Usually I have someone pack the online orders but right now my two teenage daughters and I are  packing them, we are a good team! The orders are franked in the studio and we drop them at our local post office. Deliveries are taking longer but our customers are being patient.

I am currently working to strengthen the online shop so that I can sell directly to customers through the next winter season.  This will insulate me against possible cancelled orders from wholesalers and give me greater control and puts me closer to my customers.

It is a time to force decisions and action new paths forward.

UKFT is in constant dialogue with the government and is outlining the latest support available for businesses on our website. We will update the details as and when the situation changes.

UKFT Coronavirus Guidance