Sealskinz is a British brand well known for its waterproof accessories range that has taken on some of the harshest conditions on the planet.
Sealskinz accessories have been to the top of Everest, braved the snowy winds of Antarctica, stayed dry on wilderness rafting trips in Alaska, and are trusted by the UK military. However, they’ve also been seen on dog walkers and parents on the touchlines of children’s football matches.
The brand’s sock, gloves and hats are designed to be used across most outdoor activities as well as cycling, marine, hunting and fishing.
In 2007, Sealskinz became a standalone business, born out of a membrane company. It’s manufacturing, distribution hub and head office are based in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
Gareth said: “We have always been focused on outdoor accessories, socks, hats and gloves. With a lot of other brands their accessories are an add on to their collection. We take pride that accessories are exactly what we do and what we focus on all the time. We now have two subsidiary businesses, in the USA. Sealskinz Inc, and in central and southern Europe, Sealskinz GmbH, which sit alongside our Sealskinz limited business, which covers everywhere else in the world.”
Sealskinz’s accessories run the whole length of the outdoor market but are enjoyed not only by sport enthusiasts but as regular items for everyday use.
Gareth added: “Our products could be worn by dog walkers, caravaners to stand-up paddleboarders. But the traditional outdoor hillwalkers and ramblers is probably one of our most popular areas, that’s where we kind of started. And then cycling is the other aspect that is strong, but we have also started to get some real traction in the running area of the business.”
Sealskinz are proud of their products and of their manufacturing excellence. So much so that they offer a lifetime guarantee. They have a rigorous testing process at their King’s Lynn base.
Gareth said: “We operate a very hands-on process. We have about 60 staff that currently work two shifts 24 hours a day. We are in our peak period now. Every product is hand tested. We offer a lifetime guarantee on our products. The reason we can do that is because we don’t just test a batch of 1,000 or 100, but every single product that comes through the production line. And if it fails, it doesn’t carry on to the finishing area. So, we’re always confident everything we put out is 100 per cent waterproof.”
And Sealskinz doesn’t operate on a ‘one glove fits all’ mentality. They know that different activities need different attributes and it is something they have been working on for years.
Gareth continued: “A few years ago, we had a lot of products dependent on the activity. We had an MTB range for mountain biking, a road cycling range, an outdoor range as well as a hunt/shoot range. And in probably the past three to four years, we’ve tightened that and focused that range back in.
“There are certain products that have got attributes dependent on the activity. So, for instance, road cycling or MTB, the positioning of padding to stop shock through the glove is important. So, we have specific products for that. And in the socks, we work on a temperature guide. So, from a warm weather sock, which is very thin and lightweight, to an extreme cold weather sort, which has got a lot more thermal properties.
“We also have the Hydrostop technology inside the cuff of the sock, which is a non-silicone tape which stops water coming in through, essentially, the hole that you put your foot in.”
It has been a difficult time across the world for the past 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But, while it has been difficult, it seems that Sealskinz rose to the challenge.
Gareth elaborates: “Obviously the pandemic been tough. And I’m always conscious off the terrible times people have been having. But despite the difficulties we have had a fantastic time in terms of our turnover and business. We’ve developed the business significantly during that time. I would say we’ve been quite lucky. We closed the manufacturing process down in the very early stages of the pandemic, just for about three to four weeks, but we kept the warehousing open. We put a lot of procedures in place to keep our staff safe and haven’t had any large outbreaks.
“As people weren’t allowed to travel for the holidays, obviously, there was an increase in staycations and during the lockdown you were allowed to take part in outdoor activity. We saw a definite uptick in business. Our financial year ended in July, it was a record for the business, both in terms of turnover and sales. And it’s the same this year. We finished Q1 at the end of September, and we’ve had record months since we started this financial year. And we’re well on track to have another record year by the time we get to June 2022.”
And with the upturn in business, Sealskinz have decided it’s the right time to launch new products to the market: The Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Insulated Cycle Glove with Fusion Control, Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Insulated Glove with Fusion Control, and Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Insulated Finger-Mitten with Fusion Control. These will be available in store and on retail platforms from Q3 2022.
Gareth continued: “We kept our product range consistent for the last two years. That was the feedback from customers, there was there was enough going on in the world that there was no need to interrupt it by adding complexity with new products.
“A few years ago, we launched a new range of gloves, which were called Fusion Control, which addressed some of the age-old problems of waterproof gloves where you have the liner pull out. A lot of brands have found a way around it by tabbing the fingers, which we do as well. But what we’ve managed to do, through a lot of R&D, is to bond three layers of gloves. So, if you imagine the inner layer, then you have a membrane, and then an outer. Those three layers are now bonded together, which essentially stops any slippage and improves dexterity, because, essentially, it makes it into a single bonded layer. The breathability is fantastic. The new Fusion Control collection of products that we’re launching now is the next step, where we add insulation.
“So, we’re launching the Fusion Control insulated range and these will be in the market from around August 2022. But we’ll start to pre-sell them to trade customers from December 1 this year. One is a cycling glove with attributes I mentioned earlier, but also has reflectivity built into it. We’ve got an outdoors glove with insulation and then we’ve got a mitten but inside it’s like putting a glove on as it has inner fingers. We’re also using a new installation from Primaloft, which is biodegradable.”
Another aspect that Sealskinz is extremely proud of is their connection with the British Army.
Gareth added: “We’ve had a contract with the British military for the last 12 years. It’s a very great source of pride that every person that signs up receives a pair of Sealskinz socks. And they’ve been tried and tested and put through rigorous testing by those guys, whether it’s on training exercises in Dartmoor or in operational duties in Afghanistan.”