JSD has met the challenge of clothing everyone on the new Center Parcs Woburn Forest site brilliantly. It is vital for the uniforms to stand out, and for guests to be able to identify staff – in many different environments – at a glance.”
One of the most intriguing briefs ever to arrive at Jermyn Street Designs really got our in-house design team’s pulses – and imagination – racing in Autumn 2011. We were invited to enter a competitive tender for a co-ordinated company uniform across an entire staff team, incorporating 53 garment designs for 7,500 employees … who all work within a forest setting.
Center Parcs was opening its fifth village at Woburn Forest – to launch in June 2014. Within the concept for this new flagship site, the iconic UK leisure brand was looking for differentiated clothing that captured the 21st century leisure experience against a woodland backdrop. Ahead of that, they also needed a full rollout of the uniform range to employees across the existing four villages. Staff retention at Center Parcs is very high, with a wide age range and – after wearing the same uniform collection since 2010 – it was time for something entirely new.
As one of five companies invited to tender, we were given the Center Parcs brand guidelines, together with the colour palette for the Woburn Forest interiors. JSD put forward a full design proposal – and made it to the shortlist of two. We created co-ordinated designs for the managers and ‘meet and greet’ teams, the retail staff, pool and leisure, food and beverage, and Spa consultants.
Every item was modelled by the Parcs’ staff at a Fashion Show, before a panel of their senior management who asked us detailed questions and gave feedback about every garment. It was soon clear that JSD had captured the ethos of the new flagship site and that our uniform designs reflected the essence of the Woburn Forest brand. We had won the contract.
Colour was integral to our success. “Center Parcs wanted an original palette – colours they had never had before,” explains JSD designer, Christina Burke. “All the obvious combinations had been used and we wanted to explore warmer tones to work within the forest settings. Their ultimate choice was a palette of all the berry colours, together with fragrant lavender offset by woodland greens.” JSD designers interpreted the green of the Centre Parcs logo – the bird in flight – to give tips and flecks of lime against the black core range items.
“Every garment design integrates an element of the Center Parcs concept – either attributes of the logo or the wider branding,” explains Christina Burke. “By speaking to staff, we discovered that these personal touches were important to them – they wanted to wear a uniform that made them feel good about what they did. So we added small style details – contrast stab stitch, curved lines to echo the logo’s bird in flight, berry linings, button details, contrast collar lining, hem or cuff. Collectively, these create a great style.”
Staff work both indoors and outdoors, all year round, and so JSD created layered effects to offer warmth and protection where needed – including versatile two and three-layer soft shell bonded fleeces. Center Parcs offers guests a variety of restaurant experiences and so required three distinct looks: waistcoats and smart shirts for the more formal restaurants, through to smart casual polos and aprons for pizzerias and other easy eating.
The Spa staff required hardwearing and practical outfits to allow for movement and stretching in the beauty salons. We handled this as a separate project and presented examples of designs we had created for leading beauty brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Decleor. Center Parcs staff chose elements from these and, within the consultation process, we sampled five times and created a fabric that looks like natural fibre but is easy care and requires no ironing. The natural colour palette echoes the colours of the forest setting and complements the new interiors at the Woburn Forest site.
“JSD has skillfully captured our company brand in subtle ways across the entire clothing range – now the uniform really stands out within the forest setting.” says the Procurement Manager at Center Parcs.
JSD provides Center Parcs with total contract management across all of their locations. We developed a bespoke online ordering system, complete with garment photographs, allocation controls and simple ‘two click’ ordering, to provide their staff with an automated ordering process and weekly delivery. “Each site manages its own uniform budget within departments, and because some staff cover more than one role and need a combination of uniform allocations, it required a lot of understanding of the client’s specific requirements,” explains Ann Dowdeswell, JSD Director of Sales.
Roll out proved a great experience for those employed across the Center Parcs sites. Each employee receives a smart white suit carrier, branded with the JSD logo and containing their uniform goodies. At the height of the exercise, we supplied 1,000 wearers a week – backed by the strength of the customer service provided by the JSD team and our warehouse and delivery logistics. “The new uniform is a real boost for staff morale,” confirms the Center Parcs Procurement Manager.