Ann Dowdeswell, sales and marketing director at Jermyn Street Design, reports on the successful launch of new staff uniforms for TransPennine Express and South Western Railway.
Train operators, in common with airlines and other large concerns, like their staff to have a standard uniform. This keeps them looking smart, makes them instantly recognisable to customers and others, and is part of the company’s corporate image.
Of course, employers expect everyone to look the same in their uniforms, but every person is unique and recognising and catering for individuality is just as important as creating a ‘uniform’ look.
People come in all shapes and sizes, so their uniforms must too. It’s no good having a uniform that looks good on tall skinny people but looks baggy and frumpy on someone shorter and wider.
Good uniform design should also accommodate employees who cannot wear certain items of clothing due to allergies, or religious or ethical values. A fully inclusive uniform range should also include gender fluid items, giving wearers options that make everyone feel comfortable, valued and accommodated.
Jermyn Street Design has been creating uniforms for over 30 years. Not only have its designs stood the test of time, but the team knows a thing or two about designing a uniform that works for everyone, creating a range of corporate clothing that looks great regardless of size, shape, age and gender. For employees who are not a ‘standard size’ JSD offers a made to measure service.
JSD recently launched brand new ranges for TransPennine Express (TPE) and South Western Railway (SWR). The new ranges took over two years to develop, working closely with employees to ensure that, not only were employees proud to wear the new range, but it also reflected the high standards of customer service delivered by both companies.
JSD understands the importance of keeping colleagues engaged and involved in the uniform redesign process, right up to launch date. Both companies involved key stakeholders from the moment JSD presented the first designs. Staff and union representatives were consulted at every stage of the process, giving feedback on both design and function of the items in the new ranges.
David Bolton, customer experience project manager for TPE, agreed that it was important to give colleagues lots of opportunities to give feedback. He commented: “We thoroughly tested each item in the new range, which not only gave us practical feedback on how well they performed over a period of time but also enabled us to gain buy-in from colleagues across a wide range of roles.”
Sizing roadshows were held in order to ensure everyone was provided with the correct size. For those who were not a standard size, JSD made some alterations.
One of the key aims of the new uniform was to reduce the previously long lead times for new uniform items. JSD worked closely with both rail companies to develop a distribution system that worked for each one individually. For TPE, the uniforms have been delivered in batches to each hub station, making things more efficient. This process has reduced the lead times for new starters to within 48 hours of the order being placed.
In contrast, SWR employees received their uniforms individually in a phased approach. Siobhan Neligan, customer experience business partner for South Western Railway, said: “This has helped enormously with colleague engagement as it has become a topic of conversation as everyone has received their individual boxes.”
Both uniforms have brand new items for the first time, such as a specially designed coat, the new option of a dress for TPE staff, and the option of gilets for both men or women at SWR. Most employees have the freedom to mix and match from almost 30 items in the range to suit their job role, work environment and for their own personal comfort or self-expression.
Both train operators agree that it was important to work with an expert in designing uniforms for passenger transport companies. Siobhan commented: “The team at JSD couldn’t have been more helpful. They were responsive and professional, and their experience definitely made the project go smoothly.”
David agreed: “We knew we were in safe hands because of their previous experience. We also benefitted from having our own account manager, based locally, who made sure everything stayed on track. By involving colleagues from the start, we have created a uniform that they can truly be proud of.”