Traded on both the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges, Gildan Activewear is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated manufacturers of apparel and socks, controlling almost every step in the process, from raw materials to finished garments. The Barbados office was established inJanuary 1999.
Mike Hoffman, Gildan Activewear
Twenty years ago, when Gildan was generating revenues of about CDN$75 million per annum, it was decided to establish a global operating pision in Barbados. The factors that attracted the company to this island went way beyond the international business regime and other favourable incentives for International Business Companies. They included the country’s sound infrastructure, adherence to the rule of law, safety and security and highly skilled and educated available work force.
Gildan recognized that Barbados was a good strategic location, in close proximity to our factories and major markets, with easy access via scheduled daily flights to North, South and Central America, as well as Europe. Human resources are one of Barbados’ most valuable assets. Our customer base is actually quite limited, as we have a small number of very large clients so our customer service representatives function like junior sales managers, responsible for high level customer relationships. Last but definitely not least, the enjoyable lifestyle of Barbados makes it a great place to operate a business and entertain clients, who all love coming here whenever they get a chance.
By 2011, the Barbados office employed 130 people, Gildan was selling product in 35 countries around the world, and we had outgrown our original location. To accommodate an expanding business, we bought two new buildings, on a 3-acre site on the main highway in Newton, and set up a campus style complex, providing special facilities for our staff. Gildan remains committed to being an employer of choice on the island.
Today we employ 275 people and we are currently recruiting another 20 positions to start a new e-commerce pision to help drive future growth. Some 90% of our staff are Barbadians, 50% have college degrees, and 45 of them have advanced degrees, including 10 CPAs. Our goal is to localize as much as we can, that’s why we are always looking out for local talent.
While our corporate parent is headquartered in Montreal, Gildan Activewear SRL is essentially run from Barbados with responsibilities including design, merchandising, pricing, marketing, sales and credit management, accounting, treasury, forecasting and production planning as well as strategic management. Gildan has grown significantly under that business model, today selling USD$1.8 billion of products into 54 countries around the world and is committed to growing even further. That is clearly a good advertisement for Barbados.