1960's Where it all started
Oxford Blue has very humble beginnings. The founder and grandfather of current Director, Mr HS Tank came to the UK to seek his fortune. He came alone, leaving his family behind in Panjab, Northern India. As with many people coming to work in the UK in those days, he came with very little money…. only £5. He found work in a foundry in Birmingham, working 6 days a week. In his spare time he began making waterproof kagoules at home, which he supplied to local wholesalers.
The business as we recognize it in its earliest form was up and running by the early 1970s. Mr H S Tank purchased a small factory unit from where he started manufacturing on a small scale with the help of his wife and children. Business grew enough for the founder’s sons to come and join him, the eldest son Paramjit introduced cost cutting exercises to the production line. The second generation soon took to running all the businesses’ functions, covering between them, production and distribution.
The business continued to grow as the various family members grew in knowledge and confidence. Soon they were supplying big, household names. Their growing experience and strengthening reputation for supplying premium quality garments meant they were able to win contracts with Clares/ Dickies, Regatta, Millets Leisure.
The company continues to grow in stature size and confidence to the point where the directors feel the time is right to set up and trade with their own brand name. Oxford Blue is born – a premium lifestyle and countryside clothing brand, high quality garments that are designed and made in the UK, still based in the company’s hometown Birmingham, home of British manufacturing since the 19th Century and Britain’s second city. This new phase means new premises, and the company moves to the current headquarters in 1990.
As the company grew so did the range and profile of its customers such as:
– Carrefour (ES)
– Intermarche (FR)
– Point P (FR)
– Gamm Vert (FR)
– Galeries La Fayette (FR)
– Banana Republic (US)
– C&A (UK)
– Nissen Group (JP)
– Schneider (DE)
And Many Others
The company consolidates its strong position and the 3rd generation joins the business – the founder’s grandson becomes Director in 2013. The company is still owned and run by the same family, grown from the humble beginnings of the 1960s to a multi-million pound business, which still operates from its headquarters in the heart of Birmingham, in the heart of the UK. By this time 50% of the product range is sourced from the UK and Europe.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. You might be familiar with the term ‘Oxford Blue’ in a sporting context; it is also the name of an award presented by Oxford University to sportsmen and women. The university challenged the company’s use of the term and accused us of ‘tarnishing’ the award. However, the Patent Office disagreed and in 2004, after a long and complicated court battle, found in our favour. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here with this behind me.)
There have been other challenges of course – conquering new markets. We have taken our premium, british-designed and manufactured products to the USA. After a false start our persistence and hard work has paid off and we’re now trading successfully in the US. We’re taken our high-quality products to Russia too, where they’re quickly taking to our premium country lifestyle garments.