30 Years of Arrow Uniforms

30 Years of Arrow Uniforms

Arrow Uniforms has just celebrated its 30th Anniversary of “making clothes that work” for New Zealand and Australian businesses.

Arrow Uniforms was established in Lower Hutt and has been operating in the city for over 30 years as New Zealand’s leading uniform provider, outfitting thousands of New Zealanders in healthcare, hospitality, and trade sectors as they head to work every day. Hutt City Mayor Campbell Barry attended the Anniversary function - with a warm reception from the Arrow Uniforms staff and key suppliers of the business.

Barry welcomed a discussion surrounding the Melling interchange development at the event, which was held at Arrow Uniform’s head office in Pharazyn Street. This redevelopment is planned to protect Lower Hutt from flooding and reduce traffic congestion, affecting the twenty or so businesses and homes on Pharazyn Street as is due to commence in the next few years.

Although this is bound to be a cause of change for the area, the team was told this would be no challenge and were hailed for their strength throughout the company’s journey to become a leading provider of workplace uniforms in New Zealand over the last 30 years.

Campbell Barry emphasized that the reason Arrow Uniforms could celebrate such an achievement was its people and the team ensuring this success.  Founder and Managing Director Des Ford acknowledged that the reason the company had weathered the pandemic so far as a local business was due to the staff, who were “family”. Tears were shed as Des Ford recalled the timeline of the business from humble beginnings of a small storefront on Hutt Road to the organization it is today.

In 1980, founder Des Ford was a bright young salesman who worked in the uniform business for 11 years before heading out on his own to sell mats – non-slip and anti-dirt solutions for local businesses.

The mat business flourished for a few years before Des received a call that the uniform business he’d been working for all those years ago, Professional Uniforms had gone into receivership. Des made the leap back into uniforms – and so began a 30-year journey of revolutionizing uniforms in New Zealand.

Arrow’s first mailout offered a ladies uniform for $39 – half the price of what the opposition was offering. 100 mailouts were folded in Ford’s living room and sent to all the uniform contacts he could remember. 100 uniforms were sold and Arrow Uniforms were in business.

Over the years, Arrow became known for our creative and off-beat attitude to the market. A lolly jar sat in the showroom counter filled to the brim with Minties – with a sign saying to “Please take three”. Ford mentioned that “We liked to do things a little differently – we thought being told to take one was mean, so we offered three.” Generosity remains a key foundation of the business with jet planes included in every parcel a trademark of the business.

In the late 2000s Arrow Uniforms entered Australia and adapted to the needs of the Australian market with success.

Sustainability has always been a key pillar in our operations, with the launch of a uniform recycling program in 2010 to solve the problem of pre-loved uniforms taking up space in uniform cupboards across the nation. The program focuses on cleaning, mending, and reissuing these uniforms to lower their expenditure on uniforms. Arrow Uniforms has also worked with Billy Graham Foundation in shredding old uniforms for use in boxing bags to be donated free across New Zealand.

Arrow Uniforms has championed high-profile tenders over the years, including BUPA and Harrods. Current clients include Dairy NZ, Goodman Fielder, and Te Pae Convention Centre in Canterbury.



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