With over 40 years experience, Shires Equestrian has become renowned as a leading name in equestrian equipment for horse and rider.
Family-owned since 1968, Shires Equestrian was the brainchild of Malcolm Ainge. Malcolm was working on the sales floor of Barratts, makers of equestrian equipment in Feckenham, Worcestershire, when a conversation with a Walsall manufacturer took his life down a different path. Although Malcolm had plans to emigrate to Australia, this conversation lead to a small loan he invested into stocks of saddlery, which he sold and replenished. And the rest, they say, is history! Malcolm worked the equestrian sales and markets, camping out at race yards, slowly growing his business by reinvesting the profits.
Not only do four family members work for Shires, but many of the staff are also long standing employees. This dedication to family and family values represents a vast base of knowledge, experience and commitment, which is an integral part of the Shires Equestrian products and services.
Listening to the customer
From a small unit in Pershore, the business became well established. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. In fact, Malcolm received much feedback about the incorrect fit of the products he was trading. Deciding to take action, Malcolm collaborated with his father in law, Phil White, in the early 70s, and together they initiated the design and fabrication of products such as saddle cloths, New Zealand and jute rugs, Tattersall summer sheets and leather products including mares covering boots, reins and covered browbands.
By 1976, they needed a larger manufacturing capacity and moved to Bromyard, Herefordshire, where the company grew to a staff of 40. A second premises in Worcester was purchased in 1986, which offered the company more flexibility to nurture growth, and included offices, a showroom and storage. By the mid 90s, the Shires Equestrian manufacturing expertise was moved out to China, resulting in Shires setting up their own manufacturing unit in 1999. The original Bromyard unit was sold, and the whole enterprise moved to larger premises in Leominster – where their headquarters are still located today.
Shires Equestrian was granted the Royal Warrant in 2009 as a result of supplying the Royal Household with a wide range of Shires products for five years – a reflection of its commitment to products that deliver performance and reliability. Shires are rightly very proud of the recognition the Royal Warrant gives them, as it further emphasises the solidity and consistency of the company.
Keeping up with demand
Shires Equestrian has always been focused on providing the equestrian industry with affordable, quality products. Over the years, experience and expertise has grown – as has the number of products the company offer. Being a longstanding name in the industry has given riders trust in the brand’s reliability, which is now a household name, and rewarded the company with a whole variety of best selling products.
From the initial designs developed by Malcolm and Phil, Shires has continually sought to provide rugs that fit a wide range of horses and ponies, making the range one of Shires best performers. Innovations in fabric and the demands of the buying public have further helped to shape the Shires rug range of today.
The Shires fly masks are another long-standing line that has continually evolved. The team put this down to the comprehensive, eye-catching packaging, which helps the product stand out on the shelf as well as provide consumers with informative information.
Recently, Shires has been involved in collaborations with complimentary brands to bring the consumer more useful information via packaging and hangtags. Developing new brands, such as Moretta for footwear and ARMA for horse boots, has enabled the company to build a stronger more identifiable product range. With new products developed from customer requests, Shires follow a similar procedure when any new product idea arises. Firstly, the team carries out detailed research and investigate the potential market for the new product. Designs are made up and samples are ordered, which are then taken to customers or shown to staff to seek opinion. From this point, samples may be developed further, or the exciting first order is placed.
With complete control over the product from design, through manufacture, packaging, photography and supply to retailers, Shires Equestrian has an impressive advantage over many competitive brands, but this doesn’t stop the company from trying to progress further. Shires are continually looking for ways to improve their service to customers. From holding more stock, improving the product, higher retail margins and more focused marketing, Shires work closely with their customer to provide them with a valued product range that consumers want to buy. With almost half a decade of experience of the equestrian industry, Shires Equestrian is trusted by riders and horse owners alike for its high quality yet affordable products.