School uniform shop in Littlehampton visited by MP - this is why

School uniforms were put under the spotlight by our MP when he visited a popular store in Littlehampton.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 2:19 pm

On Friday, Nick Gibb visited Felix Dance & Schoolwear in Beach Road to discuss a bill about the cost of uniforms going through Parliament, and to see the shop where school uniforms for eight local primary schools and four local secondary schools are sold.

The shop, in Beach Road, Littlehampton, opened in 2000 as a dance wear shop and expanded into school uniforms in 2005. The business is owned and run by husband and wife team Brian and Charmaine Lawrence.

Mr Gibb said: “It was a pleasure to meet Brian and Charmaine Lawrence and to see first hand their school uniform shop. Felix provides all year round availability of school uniforms for many of our local schools.

Brian Lawrence, Charmaine Lawrence, Nick Gibb in front of the shop

“We discussed the importance of school uniform in helping schools establish their ethos. It also helps to ensure a levelling between pupils from different backgrounds.

“School uniforms can be a cost effective way for parents to clothe their children, with blazers often lasting for more than one academic year.

“The Private Members’ Bill going through Parliament at the moment, which is supported by the Government, puts Department for Education published guidance, about keeping the costs of school uniform affordable, into law.”

Brian said Mr Gibb was amazed at how much stock they had throughout the year, not just in the ‘back to school’ period. He also told Mr Gibb how exclusive arrangements with schools to sell their uniform had meant cheaper prices for customers because ‘we know just what we need to buy’. He also lobbied for Mr Gibb, who is schools standards minister, to get the VAT reduced to zero on any logoed item of clothing.

Brian said: “With respect, who is going to buy a blazer for a school they don’t go to to wear as a fashion item?

“Nick was very keen on that as well, but he did point out it is not his department.”

Brian said that because of the pandemic, customers had been buying uniforms in more quantity, likely for hygiene reasons.

But because some materials are coming from overseas, they had to pay premiums to get goods flown in – amounting to £1 a garment in some cases, a cost they have absorbed.

Brian added: “We also buy from a factory in Leicester, which has had local and national lockdowns, so that has been a major headache.”

The shop supplies school uniforms for four local secondary schools: Littlehampton Academy, St Phillip Howard Catholic School, St Oscar Romero Catholic School, and Felpham Community College; and eight local primary schools: Arundel Church of England Primary School, Lyminster Primary School, River Beach Primary School, Rustington Community Primary School, St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School, St Philip’s Catholic Primary School, St Wifrid’s Catholic Primary School, White Meadows Primary Academy.