Duffield protective clothing firm wins major US police force contracts

Duffield protective clothing firm Armadillo Merino has landed new contracts with police departments in Washington, Houston, Chicago and Salt Lake City thanks to support from the Department for International Trade.
Duffield protective clothing firm Armadillo Merino has landed new contracts with police departments in Washington, Houston, Chicago and Salt Lake City thanks to support from the Department for International Trade.

A protective clothing firm with headquarters in Duffield has reported a sales increase of 200 per cent after winning a series of US police contracts with Government support.

It follows a trip to the National Tactical Officers Association Conference and Trade Show in Arizona—the world’s largest law enforcement conference—funded by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT).

Company founder Andy Caughey said: “Our international trade adviser’s recommendation to attend the show has been a big step in the right direction.

“We’re confident this export win is the first of many as we continue to build relationships with buyers across the pond.”

The firm designs and manufactures next-to-skin protective clothing for police, firefighters, soldiers and others working in high-risk environments.

Made from the wool of Merino sheep, the clothing is designed to withstand heat and flames up to 570˚C and was inspired by Andy seeing images of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with avoidable burns and injuries as a result of synthetic clothing.

The company already supplies NASA and Italian special forces, and now exports to 36 countries including Japan and Germany. Overseas sales account for 60 per cent of its annual turnover.

Andy said: “DIT has been incredibly supportive as we have turned our commercial priorities to the US over the last 18 months.

“North America is already one of our top export markets, but we knew we had barely scratched the surface of opportunities over there.”

He added: “Our sole purpose is to make clothing that genuinely improves safety and comfort. We have invested a lot in research and development over the years to make our base layer garments the best they can be.

“It is rewarding to be getting recognition from around the world.”

Ahead of Small Business Saturday on December 1, DIT is highlighting the opportunities available to specialist UK firms.

Campaign director Michelle Ovens said: “Across the UK, small businesses have provided expertise and services to their own communities for generations.

“It is great to see these local heroes looking overseas as another exciting route to consider.”

DTI has trade advisers based in the East Midlands, and holds regular events and workshops in the region.

International trade secretary Liam Fox said: “This latest success s testament to Armadillo Merino’s ambitions. My team is here to support aspiring businesses identify new opportunities, and I’d urge those looking to take their first steps to get in touch.”

For more details on DTI support, visit great.gov.uk.

Learn more about Armadillo Merino and view its products at armadillomerino.com.