It’s hard to find an Aussie business more beloved than Tambo Teddies, whose handmade sheepskin teddy bears and cuddly koalas are cherished by Australia’s children nationwide. A go-to gift for Australian grandparents, who appreciate that they are Australian Made, Tambo Teddies are also global. They have been presented to royal babies across the globe as gifts from Australian Governments, and are shipped internationally.
I recently spoke with Co-Owner Alison Shaw, who leads the online store and bricks and mortar shopfront based in outback Tambo to hear how Tambo Teddies fared this year, and about the incredible growth of their Toowoomba sewing hub, which is staffed by refugee and migrant workers. A local manufacturing success story, Tambo Teddies footprint continues to expand, with a new store opening soon in Toowoomba.
Tell us how your manufacturing hub in Toowoomba has grown this last year?
Our Regional Sewing Hub in Toowoomba rapidly outgrew its space within the first twelve months. After the first six to eight months we were juggling cut-outs and sewn stock to find room.
While it did present a bit of a logistical challenge at times, it was actually gratifying as the Hub was working! It was a risk to set up in a location that is 800 kilometres from home base in Tambo, but it has been a resounding success. We have had the same staff for the past two years and the Toowoomba Hub is where most of our production occurs.
After eighteen months leasing, we purchased a much larger space in August 2020. It would have been earlier, but we held off a wee bit with the COVID pandemic, as travel was restricted and we were unsure how we would be impacted.
Tell us about the Tambo Teddies retail store in Toowoomba coming soon.
Our new Hub has a show room where we have set up the sewing machines and workshop, but there is plenty of room and we are getting the front area fitted out for retail. We have been open for retail since we relocated, and installed a connected point of sale system last October. It has been really interesting to monitor the in-store sales in Toowoomba, and to date they have exceeded our projections.
Our Staff in Toowoomba are passionate about Tambo Teddies and have transitioned easily into their customer service roles. We will be looking for another sewer this year to backfill the position that has been left vacant with the opening of the shopfront.
We have also shifted the majority of the packaging of the online orders to Toowoomba as well. This transition has been driven by staffing, (Tambo Staff are too busy in season to pack orders), efficiency and logistics around where stock is located and access to the postal service. Australia Post collects the orders from our store in Toowoomba and the parcels are one day closer to their destination when sent!
You recently implemented an automated inventory control system to streamline your supply chain. What are the benefits for your business?
Improved efficiency. We will be able to manage our stock in both locations much more efficiently. We will know what bears are where and this will allow triggers for reordering to be set up. This means moving away from a very manual process of stock management.
Being a manufacturing and retail business, we can also drill into our products costings better to ensure we have profitable margins in place.
This year has seen a growth in Tambo Teddies Stockists. How do businesses interested in stocking Australian Made Tambo Teddies get in touch?
We are always keen for new Stockists, and enquiring is easy, through the form on our website.
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