With an esteemed history stretching back to 1912 supplying uniforms to Australian Defence Force diggers, Australian Defence Apparel Ltd (ADA) was awarded the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) Wearable’s Contract in 2020.

Currently occupying temporary facilities in Palmerston North, ADA’s new purpose-built headquarters due for completion September this year is located next to Palmerston North Airport, and will include offices, warehouse and showroom.

ADA’s New Zealand Programme Director Sarah Pender says a key reason for choosing Palmerston North was the development of its new easy to access central North Island distribution and logistics hub.

“The location is known as a real growth area for distribution and logistics. Linton Military Camp and RNZAF Ohakea Base are also on our doorstep. Waiouru Military Camp is very hard to access apart from Palmerston North, and the NZDF Headquarters is in Wellington. So, they’re all in very close proximity for logistics, and that has enabled us to respond very quickly to demand.”

Sarah tells the story of a group of soldiers deploying out of Linton as part of the Cyclone Gabrielle response. The team included soldiers from Fiji who arrived at Linton on the Saturday, were measured for uniforms on the Sunday, and were helping on site wearing their new kit on the Monday.

ADA’s scope of responsibility is to manage the end-to-end supply chain for the NZDF, including procurement, inventory management and distribution. ADA NZ also manage the design and development process on behalf of the NZDF.

The substantial range of items sourced and supplied by ADA includes clothing headwear, footwear, gloves, packs, carrier vests, mess tins, sleeping bags and tents.

“We do individual ‘pick and pack’ for individual service personnel, and manage the clothing stores at the nine camps and bases, so the personnel can get sized and place an order. We have twenty-nine staff in the clothing stores, including a seamstress or tailor in each store for alterations.”

The team of 25 staff located in the new Headquarters includes warehousing and distribution staff, an operations team, contract manager, customer service and research and design.

“Our customer service team are all locally based, and we have also added a local HR Manager,” says Sarah. “Our accounts payable team is all local too, ensuring our New Zealand customers are serviced in a New Zealand environment. We do all the research and development and design and development, and have a textile specialist and a senior designer. “We even have a specialist with a PhD in Physiology who is a leading expert in integration of clothing system. For example, shirts must integrate with body armour or a pack. With a demonstrated history working in the apparel industry, Sarah was recruited by ADA in 2014, with the goal of targeting the NZDF contract and building valued relationships over time.

With a demonstrated history working in the apparel industry, Sarah was recruited by ADA in 2014, with the goal of developing key relationships in New Zealand and winning the New Zealand contract.

“ADA tends to employ people from the apparel industry who experts in their field, and everyone is very passionate about providing the right clothing to enable the personnel to do their job. We are very innovative in our thinking and because we’re still privately owned, we have the ability to be very agile. If an opportunity arises to improve on what we’re doing for the end user we can do make changes very quickly. At this stage we just have the contract for NZDF, but we will be looking at other government first responder contracts going forward.”

Richard Loader – Business Central  NZ