Uniform comes under fire

The new St Ronan's uniform.
The new St Ronan's uniform.

The new school uniform of St Ronan’s College has set tongues wagging, but for all the wrong reasons.

The design of the uniform for the amalgamated school which opens in September has been heavily criticised and parents have also expressed concern at the high cost of kitting out their children.

In our Over To You section (page 14) there are a selection of readers comments on the new uniform.

Meanwhile, retailers who have been left with huge stockpiles of the old uniforms for St Michael’s, St Mary’s and St Paul’s, say the consultation process was poor.

With 40 years experience in the trade, Noel Campbell’s in North Street, said it came as a shock to learn the new uniform had been agreed prior to consultation with suppliers.

Paul Campbell said the normal process of uniform change involved all local suppliers who would have an 18 month notice period to deplete their stocks allowing them to regain some capital for the major investment needed to stock a complete uniform change.

Paul commented: “To receive news on December 12th that a new St Ronan’s uniform was to be released in September 2015 was a huge concern to us to say the least and could prove fatal to many of us in this business.”

Since then Paul said it was the suppliers who had to force meetings with the school to voice their concerns.

He said they’ve been inundated with calls from parents requesting information and are aware of parents commenting on social media regarding the design of the new uniform and expressing their anger, dislike and shock at the likely retail price.

“These negative comments leave us, as suppliers, nervous in committing substantial amounts of money in stocking this uniform,” he said.

“We, along with some other local suppliers, have since sourced alternative manufacturers for the skirts, blazers and trousers. We wish to assure our local community that we will strive to, as we have done for almost 40 years, to provide the quality and value they would expect from their local shop.”

Fellow North Street trader Babita Tandon of J&R clothing said: “The price of the new uniform is the big concern for parents. Families of two or three children, especially girls, are being hit hard. The skirts look like being around £40 and you’ll need two.”

She added: “I agree with the school’s decision to bring out a whole new uniform, but they haven’t done a proper consultation and they haven’t given enough notice. They’ve left things very, very late.”

She said it was her aim to provide the best value for money for her customers but given the choice of specific items like tartan skirts and striped blouses coupled with the timeframe to get the new uniform in stock, she’s been left with an uphill task.

On top to that she said she’d been left with a massive amount of old uniforms which at best could be given to charity shops.

One retailer, who didn’t wish to be named, said they’d been left with redundant stock in the region of £30,000.

While several established uniform sellers in the town are counting the cost of the uniform change, a newcomer has ended up in a fortunate position.

Having begun selling school uniforms in the past two years House of Sport held off from stocking any uniforms of St Michael’s, St Mary’s and St Paul’s knowing the amalgamation was afoot. They will now begin selling the new uniforms for St Ronan’s without an unwanted surplus.