Thermal brand ensures year-round revenue for seasonal business

  • Thermatech

    Thermatech's last catalogue of sought after thermal apparel.

George Kear bought camping equipment import and wholesale business Charton International in 2008. It was a seasonal business that saw high demand for its products during the summer months.

“We were looking for a new business that would trade through the winter months and level out turnover across the year. We wanted a brand that was established and a product that would complement our existing line up of OzTrail camping and tramping equipment,” says George.

Five years ago, George bought ThermaTech, a well-known thermal apparel brand.
“ThermaTech was previously owned by Pacific Brands, until they pulled out of the New Zealand market in 2010. We picked it up and bought the brand outright. We own the name and the rights to the technology. We are able to do everything – from design through to retail. It was a great opportunity as the products are fantastic.”

ThermaTech has its national distribution base in Christchurch and supplies outlets such as Farmers, Smith City, Farmlands and independent sports and camping stores. Its product range appeals to adventure seekers as well as anyone who likes being outdoors – trampers, sports players, hikers, hunters and runners.

The cutting edge technology used in ThermaTech garments is its key point of difference in the market, as George explains. “While thermals are the ‘grown up polyprops’, ThermaTech is a hollow core polyester fabric that has a couple of significant advantages. It performs like merino or wool, but unlike those fibres, it doesn’t retain smell. It absorbs moisture and more importantly, it allows the moisture to evaporate, which keeps you dry and regulates your body temperature. It’s much more than a thermal, it’s a fabric that keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer and dry all year round.”

Exporting is on the company’s radar, with opportunities being explored in the UK and China. The first order of ThermaTech has just been sent to Australia.

“Charton is definitely in growth phase,” says George. “Along with export plans, we recently bought a printing business, which means we can now print directly on to clothing for sports teams. An ‘off field’ business has become ‘on field’. And we have expanded the ThermaTech range to now include jackets, socks and accessories.”

When George purchased Charton, he brought on Moore Stephens Markhams director Graeme Rhodes to handle his financial management, but it was far from a new relationship between the two men.

“We’ve had a long-standing association and are very good friends. Our fathers met through motor racing and I went to school with Graeme. His father was my father’s accountant and then mine for probably 20 years but when Graeme became a partner with Moore Stephens Markhams, I switched to him,” George explains.

Graeme was instrumental in helping George sell his previous business and purchase Charton. “He prepared the books and the business for sale. He also looked at the new company we wanted to buy and did due diligence. He was involved throughout that whole process.

“We are not a big enough business to have our own in-house accountant, so having Graeme handle our annual accounts and tax obligations is great. A monthly snapshot of our performance also keeps us informed of where we’re at. They’re a great team at Moore Stephens Markhams and really good to deal with.”

Published Winter 2015.

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