My Biggest Mistake: Stuart Findlay
Sunday 03 October 1993
MY BIGGEST mistake was in importing goods from overseas without first having them inspected. About five years ago we had begun to make our own promotional merchandise after setting up a factory in Malta. We were concentrating on producing polo shirts at competitive prices, so to me the cost per kilogram of the fabric we used was of the utmost concern. This was part of my mistake.
We had been let down by our former suppliers in China and were searching the world for other sources when we eventually found a manufacturer in Pakistan. The samples they sent us were good and the price was right. I placed an order for three containers of fabric - at a cost of pounds 65,000 - without going out there.
I did go to Pakistan shortly afterwards to discuss our long-term requirements, but due to flight delays I didn't take the time to see the mill. Instead, I met the knitters at their offices in Karachi, where they showed me the fabric they were supposed to be sending. I didn't foresee any problem.
We had been buying finished goods from all over the world for 12 years, and in the early days had employed local inspectors for our quality control. But they were expensive, and often delayed shipments. In our experience, this process wasn't worthwhile; we had found that suppliers want to give you a good product, so that you will place repeat orders.
This time it was different. The fabric in the first container was rubbish. It wasn't white, it had defects and even the width varied. It was not what had been ordered or what had been shown to me in Karachi. By this time the second container had arrived. The third was on its way, and we couldn't send them back because we had covered all three with one letter of credit.
We decided we had no option but to make the fabric into garments. Then we discovered the biggest problem: the garments shrunk by as much as 20 per cent. It was another expensive lesson - one of our customers took us to court and we paid pounds 30,000 in compensation.
The factory in Pakistan would not admit liability, so we had to call in an inspection agency with a branch in Malta to show that the fabric was sub-standard. It took a nine-month battle to get just dollars 15,000 out of the supplier. The whole sorry saga ended up costing us plenty but it taught me that you have to be very cautious when venturing out of your area of expertise. I had been over- confident in believing it was in the supllier's interest to give us quality goods.
We continue to buy from Pakistan, which produces some of the best cotton. But I chose my next supplier with more care. And, of course, we now use inspectors for all our fabrics, from Pakistan or anywhere.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...