All About Business

Derbys action garments win startup award

A Derbyshire company has scooped a top award in a nationwide
competition for startups, with its world-beating wool garments
for risk takers and action people.
Derby-based Armadillo Merino, already high flying after
major export contracts, has won the product-based startup of the
year award, in competition with hundreds of other businesses.

Among the judges for the Natwest-sponsored award, was
Dragons Den personality Douglas Bannatyne, who headed
a panel that told the company they were an impressive
example of British design and innovation leading the world.

The judges said Armadillo Merino is the only range of all
natural body armour for fire fighters, police and military personnel,
and will save lives.  “This product has the potential to become
just the sort of quality, specialist, world-leading medium sized
business the UK needs,” the panel added in their comments.

Managing director Andy Caughey developed the garments
after soldiers caught in roadside bomb blasts found their
man-made fibre based underclothes had melted and fused
with skin, causing severe burns that are difficult to treat and
resulting in life-long scarring. Merino wool has natural
flame-resistant properties that help protect wearers and will
help save lives.

“|t is all about saving  your skin,” he said. “Soldiers in the first
and second world wars knew the value of wearing wool close to
their skin, for comfort and warmth. Wool has evolved over thousands
of years to protect sheep in extremes of heat, humidity and cold.
By combining modern technology with superfine merino wool, we
have created a range of head to toe high performance garments
that can help protect wearers and are so fine that they have a silky feel.

“We have been able to enhance the comfort and durability for
risk-takers by removing internal labels, using smooth flatlock stitching
and placing single panels under the arms at traditional friction points.
User comfort is critical for operational effectiveness, which is why
we educate users so they understand and appreciate the natural
qualities of merino wool for comfort, warmth and protection.”

He said the garments have unique performance properties and
tests have demonstrated that wearers experience higher levels of
endurance. Merino’s built-in advantages, combined with a natural
softness and strength, make it the ideal fibre for enhanced protection,
performance and comfort in extreme environments.”

He added: “For soldiers on active duty and emergency risk takers,
these garment are vital.  Some man-made fibres have a low melting
point and having these next to your skin in a fire situation can
be fatal or cause skin damage that means months of painful cleaning
and grafts, as the victims of roadside bombs and tank crews have discovered.”

Armadillo Merino – with a significant Italian order already under
its belt – says it is actively talking with military and emergency
services around the world and it expects more orders to follow, with
support from the British Government’s UK Trade & Investment
organisation and its offshore offices.

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