One of the world's leading rugby kit and equipment manufacturers, Canterbury of New Zealand, is preparing to tackle the sportswear fashion market with the launch of its latest range of clothing.
Supported by a £2 million finance package from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance in Birmingham, Canterbury of New Zealand, whose European operation, Canterbury Europe, is based in the UK, is looking to branch out into the off-field fashion market with a new range of retro style rugby jerseys.
The venture is an ambitious move by the company and if successful will challenge the likes of Polo Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hackett for a share of the casual sportswear sector.
Established in 1904, Canterbury of New Zealand has traditionally manufactured products for the professional and retail rugby markets, competing against big name brands including Nike, Adidas and Reebok on the international stage, and Kooga and Cotton Traders in the UK.
Gordon Cameron, chief operating officer, Canterbury Europe, said: "The launch of the new rugby themed fashion brand will enable the company to explore a market that has previously been untapped by a traditional rugby kit manufacturer.
"We continue to lead from the front in terms of our on-field product offering, which remains a key focus of the business going forward, but as we look to expand the business, the fashion industry will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role."
Canterbury of New Zealand also has offices in Australia, South Africa, Japan and North America, plus its head office in New Zealand.
Globally, Canterbury employs more than 300 people - of which 50 are based in the UK - and has a turnover of £50 million, which it is now hoping to increase with the launch of its new line of clothing.