Perseverance Mills' Perseverance Loses Weight: Is the Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away?

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by Ryan Jordan | 2005-04-14 03:00:00-06

Victims of a Global Economy

Perseverence Mills Ltd., the 100+ year old UK textile maker best know for the Pertex family of fabrics adored by backpackers (hillwalkers, fellwalkers), alpinists (climbers, mountaineers), and especially, ultralight hikers, has reported distressing news from its home office this evening.

We have received word that Philip Long and Ian Schofield of PKF Accountants and Business Advisers (www.pkf.co.uk) have been appointed administrative receivers for Perseverance Mills.

Going Concern: "This concept is the underlying assumption that any accountant makes when he prepares a set of accounts. That the business under consideration will remain in existence for the foreseeable future. In addition to being an old concept of accounting, it is now, for example, part of UK statute law: reference to it can be found in the Companies Act 1985. Without this concept, accounts would have to be drawn up on the 'winding up' basis. That is, on what the business is likely to be worth if it is sold piecemeal at the date of the accounts. The winding up value would almost certainly be different from the going concern value shown. Such circumstances as the state of the market and the availability of finance are important considerations here." - from Duncan Williamson
“As administrative receivers we are looking to trade the business as a going concern," says Long. "The directors were trying to sell the business and have been in talks with a number of interested parties." A 'going concern' status for a UK company warrants similar attention as a U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Hope for a Pertex Revival?

“PKF has been very successful in achieving going concern sales," continues Long. "We hope to do the same for Perseverance Mills Ltd who, after many profitable years, has faced an increasingly tough marketplace.”

We at Backpacking Light can only hope for the same. The Pertex family of fabrics, including Microlight, Quantum, Endurance, and Equilibrium, has offered performance benefits in both the lab and field that consistently set it apart from its competition.

Pertex was founded on the premise that a fabric is capable of managing moisture via evaporation enhanced by moisture dispersion via capillary wicking, rather than moisture barrier technologies that limit breathability. This feature is still a hallmark of Perseverance Mills' latest technologies, including Pertex Quantum and Pertex Endurance. Pertex Quantum remains the industry's leading performance ultralight fabric in applications requiring supreme breathability with the moisture resistance of a woven textile.

Unfortunately, because Perserverance Mills depends on exports for nearly 70% of its business (with a presumably large chunk of that going to U.S. gear and apparel manufacturers), it has faced increasingly stiff competition by manufacturers of similar textiles in both the U.S. and Asia. U.S. textile manufacturers are capitalizing on tariff-free short run manufacturing done stateside, while Asian textile manufacturers are enjoying the benefits of delivering fabrics quickly, cheaply, and seamlessly into gear and apparel manufacturing facilities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and other key Asian epicenters of outdoor goods production.

In our increasingly global economy, Perseverance Mills is proving what we've been terrified of for the past two decades: Europe is a tough place for a performance textile manufacturer to play outdoor industry hardball. And in spite of promised economic development by the European Union to keep its best and brightest companies competitive on a global scale, we are seeing the (perhaps rotten) fruits of economic damage borne by international economic cooperatives.

But we're not policy analysts. We're lightweight backpackers.

The bottom line: Pertex products are priced high, although not outrageously so. However, when import duties, shipping costs, and times-to-production are higher than what U.S. and Asian manufacturers are able to offer (even when fabric performance doesn't measure up), the decision will ultimately be decided by price. And since Perserverance Mills earns its bread and butter from large companies marketing price-point products to the outdoor industry mass market - the decision will ultimately be made with financial models, not product performance models, in mind.

What's in Store for the Future?

"Better fabrics" may not be the answer.

Pertex is a big dog among the top end performance textile manufacturers. In business since 1901 and managing $15M in annual sales, it is the most recognized performance fabric brand in the industry (click here for a brief historical perspective on Perseverance Mills). Not only has Perseverance Mills taken a positive leadership stance in our industry, they've stood behind their customers and their products with solid marketing missing from private label textile manufacturers.

The Jan/Feb 2005 issue of OCC Outdoor recognized Pertex "as one of the most innovative products of the past 30 years." Considering the company among others in the list (Karrimor, GoLite, Berghaus), it's tough to ignore the fact that the lightweight movement has gained momentum and earned its reputation as a viable industry niche. We owe a lot of that to Pertex.

Alternatives to Pertex?
by Carol Crooker

Pertex is the market leader in what is referred to as water-resistant, lightweight, and highly breathable fabrics, with Pertex Quantum leading the charge.

Currently, no other lightweight fabrics are marketed in this niche as branded fabrics by textile manufacturers - they relinquish brand licensing and marketing rights to the gear and apparel manufacturers, for the most part. MontBell, GoLite, and Patagonia offer the most widely visible ultralight fabrics, but there are others, and their number is increasing as more and more textile manufacturers realize the market potential of ultralight breathable fabrics.

From the standpoint of media relations, our experience with Perseverance Mills has been one we can only hope would be modeled by other textile manufacturers. Communications between Backpacking Light staff and Perseverence Mills has always been founded on respect, openness, and honesty, even when differences of opinion or observations in performance existed.

If Perseverance Mills dies quietly, it will take a legacy of integrity, innovation, and sound marketing with it.

Unfortunately, the void would not be replaced anytime soon. In an age where textile makers are consumed with unnecessarily restrictive requirements for fabric application and use, or have the "ship it and shut up" attitudes of many "private" label fabric makers, Perseverance Mills was able to gracefully strike a balance the afforded more advancement in the application of lightweight materials in outdoor apparel than we've seen in a long time.

Status of Pertex Fabric Availability

Perseverance Mills promises no interruption in fabric delivery over the short term. We spoke with Helen Isherwood, spokesperson for Perserverance Mills Ltd., and she assured us that "in many ways, it's business as usual" and "we are working very hard to minimize disruption for our customers."

The mid term health of Perseverance Mills will depend on the company finding investors soon, so R&D and new fabric production can remain in the robust state of affairs enjoyed by the company to date. And over the long term, Pertex will remain the premium fabric of choice for high end gear manufacturers, but only if the company can improve production efficiency to compete effectively in U.S. and Asian markets.

 


Citation

"Perseverance Mills' Perseverance Loses Weight: Is the Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away?," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/perseverance_mills_pertex_chapter_11.html, 2005-04-14 03:00:00-06.

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Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away or Just Regrouping?
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away or Just Regrouping? on 04/15/2005 00:40:54 MDT Print View

This forum was created in response to the editorial about Perseverance Mills filing "Chapter 11" (e.g., called "Going Concern" in the UK):

Perseverance Mills' Perseverance Loses Weight: Is the Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away?

jake doxat
(jakedoxat) - M
Pertex on 04/19/2005 03:20:51 MDT Print View

Montane is a large buyer of Pertex fabrics and we therefore have good links in to the company. We have it on good authority from them that the bulk of the problems stem from the parent company's indebtedness. That company, Padiham Group, is a packaging company and not involved at all in fabrics. Pertex itself, is profitable,and has a full order book. At today's date Pertex have very many interested acquirers looking over the company. Montane is confident that Pertex will continue as a fabric brand, and we will continue to feature their excellent products in our ranges.

Jake Doxat
CEO - Montane

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Perseverance Mills closing on 05/18/2005 05:20:10 MDT Print View

Perseverance Mills has been unable to find a buyer and will be closing in 2 to 6 weeks time.

Jon Solomon
(areality) - F - MLife

Locale: Lyon/Taipei
Shocking! on 05/18/2005 06:04:53 MDT Print View

Your terse comments about Perseverance Mills closing in 2-6 weeks make it sound like you have the inside scoop. That's a very big surprise.
I had been enjoying watching--and occasionally reaping the benefits of--the competition between Japanese and British textile makers. With Pertex out of the game, it looks like "advantage, Japan".

Edited by areality on 05/18/2005 14:50:12 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Status of PERTEX on 05/18/2005 14:46:12 MDT Print View

Pertex is is final negotiations with a new buyer and will announce the future direction of the company on Monday or so. All things point to the positive on this and it looks like Perseverance Mills and Pertex will live. This info was provided to me today straight from Perseverance Mills.
Ryan

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
is this 100 % sure on 05/18/2005 15:28:07 MDT Print View

Ryan,
are you 100 % sure of the positive outcome ? What I posted earlier was what I got from someone whos father works at Perseverance Mills. If what you say is true, probably a lot of people will keep there job but I don't want to raise fals hopes by pointing them to what you wrote.

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Buy your own Pertex dynasty! on 05/23/2005 20:30:04 MDT Print View

Click here to buy your own Pertex dynasty!

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
pertex dynasty or bust on 05/23/2005 21:08:43 MDT Print View

maybe if we all pool our resources?

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
perseverance mills really closing !!! on 05/26/2005 01:24:01 MDT Print View

This is what I read this morning at ourdoorsmagic.com. The source is the son of an employee.

Well it is final. The factory is closing, the employees were called in today and told that they no longer have a job. If there is any company looking at buying the factory its going to happen after all the employees have lost their jobs.

Sad day.

jake doxat
(jakedoxat) - M
..but the products will live on.... on 05/27/2005 01:45:11 MDT Print View

It is true. After my, and the administrator's initial optimism, iyt has been confirmed there is no buyer. However, all is not lost for the apparel buyers of Pertex fabrics and end-users. Although manufacture will cease in the UK, the brand will continue and the know-how will transfer to aniother fabric producer. Hopefully there will be a seamless transition.

Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
Re: Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away or Just Regrouping? on 06/24/2005 02:24:52 MDT Print View

http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/daily-news/article.php?id=5635

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Pertex Dynasty Slipping Away or Just Regrouping? on 08/31/2005 08:03:44 MDT Print View

I'm sad to hear that people are losing their jobs and hope they find something else quickly.

From a selfish point of view, I hope the technology will continue to be available as my Berghaus Extrem windproof jacket made from Pertex Equilibrium is the finest summer windproof/showerproof I have ever worn. Equilibrium is sensationally good. After three hours in driving rain and low cloud on Bleaklow/Margery Hill I remembered that my banknotes were unbagged, in the chest pocket. When checked, they were bone dry so I left them there for the next eight hours of rainy walking and they stayed dry. Quite unbelievable! Particularly as the waterproof over the Extrem jacket has seen better days and gets soggy in the rain.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
PERTEX SURVIVES on 09/09/2005 10:42:25 MDT Print View

Press release from pertex this morning, it's now official. I wish I could have said more in the interim of the rumor mills, but I'm happy to announce that pertex is alive and kickin.

--

PRESS RELEASE

‘NEW SUNRISE FOR PERTEX’

Following some weeks of speculation Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) are pleased to announce their acquisition of the Pertex brand. Included in this are all rights to the brand names, Intellectual Property, Know-How and some key machinery formerly owned by Perseverance Mills Ltd.

Speaking from his office in Osaka, Japan, Mr Tetsuo Nonomura; Director & General Manager – Textile Division, stated that ’Mitsui is committed to the research and development of innovative textile technology for which Pertex has gained a worldwide reputation with products such as Pertex Quantum®, Pertex Equilibrium® and the Backpacker Magazine award winning Endurance technology’.

Mr Nonomura went on to say, ‘the transfer of Pertex® technology to our factories in Japan is well advanced and that the manufacturing equipment will be sited in lines dedicated to the production of Pertex® products’.

Mitsui have retained the services of Pertex® brand founder; Steve Laycock with responsibility for Marketing and New Product Direction.

Speaking from his UK office Steve said, ‘I am really pleased that Mitsui have the vision to take on the Pertex® brand and I’m excited by the prospect of working with Mitsui to develop new Pertex® technologies and to strengthen the brand at retail and consumer levels. Pertex® will continue to work with end-user groups to develop solution oriented textile technologies’.

Work has already begun to update the website and this will continue to be a valuable resource for breaking news about Pertex® products and activities.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: PERTEX SURVIVES on 09/09/2005 10:51:39 MDT Print View

Dr. J,

Thanks for the update & info. From various perspectives: a mixed bag.

From mine as a buyer/user: sunny
From the British workers (if i understood the concept of "transfer...to our factories in Japan" correctly): still dark and gloomy

Perhaps the one who needed a job the least, the "founder", is still employed - par for the course.

Sorry, this hits somewhat close to home, i.e. it's similar to foreign outsourcing - the company i work for leads the way in this area (though it doesn't affect me personally in my position). [sorry, just got out of a "Focus Meeting" here at work on "Cost vs. Quality" (i'm on lunch now). worker "bees" voted for "quality". upper level management seems to have cast its vote for, you guessed it, "cost". guess who will win?!!! gotta' keep the shareholders happy and stay in business!!]

At least we will still have the benefit of "quality" applied to these fine materials and products. The Japanese should easily be up to the task - as were the British.

Still great news for the American UL-er. Thanks again.

Edited by pj on 09/09/2005 11:20:20 MDT.