The Gildan Success Story

History Gildan was founded by the Chamandy family in Canada in 1984. At that time, the family, which had been managing a childrenswear manufacturing company, decided to produce their own textile in an effort to lower costs. As the fabric production continued to grow, soon outpacing their own demand, the Chamandy family decided to look […]

By Business Barbados

December 12, 2008


Gildan was founded by the Chamandy family in Canada in 1984. At that time, the family, which had been managing a childrenswear manufacturing company, decided to produce their own textile in an effort to lower costs. As the fabric production continued to grow, soon outpacing their own demand, the Chamandy family decided to look for ways to use the excess fabric being produced. At that point in time, the screen-print market appeared to be a great potential opportunity and as a result they began manufacturing blank t-shirts for decoration and embellishment.

Gildan evolved from a fast-growing fabric company to eventually become a world class, vertically integrated manufacturer and marketer of quality branded basic apparel. Today, the Company operates primarily in one business segment; that being high-volume, basic, frequently replenished, non-fashion apparel. The Company is the largest supplier of activewear for the wholesale imprinted sportswear market to both the U.S. and Canada, and is also a leading supplier to this same market in Europe. The company sells t-shirts, sport shirts and fleece in large quantities to wholesale distributors as undecorated “blanks”, which are subsequently decorated by screen-printers with various designs and logos. Consumers ultimately purchase the company’s products, with the Gildan label, in venues such as sporting events, entertainment and corporate outings, as well as travel and tourism destinations. Other end-uses include work uniforms and similar applications to convey individual, group and team identity. In addition to continuing its growth within the wholesale channel, Gildan is implementing a major new growth initiative to sell athletic socks, underwear and activewear to mass-market retailers in North America. Gildan specializes in large-scale marketing and manufacturing of basic, non-fashion apparel products for customers requiring an efficient supply chain and consistent product quality for high-volume automatic replenishment programs. Our product offering focuses on core basic activewear styles sold in various fabrics, weights and colours. In 2006, we also introduced a variety of styles of men’s and boys’ underwear and athletic socks into our product-line. Gildan’s corporate headquarters is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and we have approximately 15,000 full-time employees around the world. Gildan was publicly listed on the TSX in 1998 and on the NYSE in 1999.

Gildan’s Facility in Barbados

Gildan’s facility in Barbados currently employs 110 employees and is responsible for all the marketing, sales, sales support and administration functions required to drive the corporation’s worldwide sales and growth initiatives. Every customer worldwide submits their purchase orders either electronically or facsimile or even by telephone through our Barbados office where each order is processed, analyzed against forecast, credit approved and eventually released for shipment to one of our strategically located distribution centres around the world.

Why Barbados?

Notwithstanding the favourable tax treaties and long standing trade relations between Canada and Barbados, as a recognized international manufacturing company, Gildan always seeks to be based in locations that offer the infrastructure and human resources that are conducive to the maintenance and sustainability of our organizational goals. In Barbados, we’ve found high quality, well-educated employees, which enables us to successfully compete in the global textile and apparel markets. As a result, Gildan is able to boast our #1 position in T-Shirts, Fleece and Sport Shirts. We owe it all to our employees, including those in Barbados.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Gildan is dedicated to being a socially responsible employer in all of its geographical hubs, and is committed to investing in modern, state of the art facilities and to adhering to progressive employment practices. While our commitment to social responsibility is primarily focused on the implementation of our code of conduct and the way we manage our global operations, we also support social and humanitarian needs as well as contribute to the development of the communities where our operations are located. We seek to combine involvement in social, educational and economic development of the countries in which we operate with the long-term enhancement of our industry. Besides monetary donations for families impacted by natural disasters, cancer and other serious ailments, Gildan has and continues to contribute substantial quantities of clothing items to organizations in Barbados throughout the year.

In Central America, Gildan is the initiator and a leading sponsor of Instituto Politecnico Centroamericano. This technical school in Honduras provides specialized courses mainly in textile and electromechanics. Gildan has also committed to sponsor 250 students over the next 5 years, representing a contribution of U.S.$ 300,000. Our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility reflects Gildan’s corporate values, instills pride in employees and their families and enhances economic value. As such in 2006-2007, Gildan was recognized for its CSR commitment.

  • Awarded the “Phare” prize for best corporate governance among mid-sized businesses in 2007.

  • Received Mercuriades Award in the Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development category.

  • Received the CAFTA Regional Development Award.

  • Recognized by INCAE University for contribution to the scholarship program.

In addition, Gildan recently became the first basic activewear apparel manufacturer to receive the Fair Labour Association (FLA) accreditation for its labour compliance program.

The Future of Gildan in Barbados

As referenced earlier, Gildan has found here much of the infrastructure and human capital that enables us to thrive in an extremely competitive global market place. We are here for the long-term and as such we will be doubling the number of employees here in Barbados over the next 3-5 years. Along with the increase in staffing comes the need for a new, larger modern office building which will be constructed and appointed to the highest standards, consistent with our overall corporate commitment to providing a safe, clean, comfortable and efficient work environment for our employees.

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