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Feeling the benefits - Kingsway Menswear Back to 'Case Studies'

Kingsway Menswear has been selling men’s clothing from a high-profile corner site in central New Plymouth for 75 years, and has seen the oil and gas sector expand from a small niche industry to a major driver of the local economy.

Paul Clarke and his son Matthew own and run the business, which specialises in high quality and high service men’s fashion with a specialty store focusing on Canterbury branded apparel and corporate team wear. While a clothing store may not be an obvious benefactor from Taranaki’s oil and gas industry, the business is quick to acknowledge three positive impacts of having the sector - and its globally connected workforce - based in Taranaki.

“There’s an obvious retail spinoff, as the many overseas contract workers come into the region and seek quality brands and service,” says Paul.

“It has also contributed to our move into team wear featuring iconic Kiwi brands like Canterbury to meet the needs of corporate groups. There’s strong demand for company branded gear and event clothing for training courses and conferences.”

The third main benefit is a little less obvious, and relates to the myriad ways the sector supports the wider community. 

“CEOs, managers and staff, with international experience and links, have made a real impact by getting out there and supporting community groups and organisations, through sponsorship, but also by sharing their time and expertise.”

“Sitting at business and community events, you can be at the same table as international business leaders. It’s fantastic,” enthuses Paul. 

He sees the flipside as the contract nature of the industry. 

“While we do get a lot of nationalities through the door, and in many cases become friends with them, we see a lot of customers from the industry come and go,” says Paul.

“In that regard it’s a lot like film” he says, in reference to the Warner Brothers production of Last Samurai, which injected around $50 million, Tom Cruise and Billy Connelly into the region in 2002-2003. This constant flow of people with international spending power has enabled Kingsway to focus on building a successful business to meet their needs.

“We stock a number of high quality classically styled, more hardwearing brands almost exclusively for the oil and gas industry market, but we’re really known for our quality and service. This seems to be well respected by the international customers we see regularly.”

But when it comes to the broader economic impact of the oil and gas industry, he is unequivocal.

“There’s no question the industry is a huge benefit to the region. It’s certainly played a part in Taranaki’s  weathering of the economic storm better than most, and we have traded well throughout the recession, thanks in part to them.”

  Feeling the benefits - Kingsway Menswear  
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