Keith Burton started selling tools from a van in around 1986. He found on his travels that his customers wanted workwear too and so he began selling this also from the van. By 1994 he was doing well and decided to get a shop and sell workwear and safety footwear as he’d found he was now having more demand for this than the tools. Companies began requesting their company logo on their workwear and so he started outsourcing embroidery. In 2002 Adrian, with some investment from his father Keith, started printing garments from his garage at home on his days off and evenings until one day he won a big contract to build sign written boards with a local company. This gave him the opportunity and some much-needed funding to commit to working full time alongside Keith as a separate company and to rent an industrial unit. Peter Jamieson, Adrian’s father-in-law, lent them the finances to buy an embroidery machine. Adrian then began doing all the embroidery Keith had been outsourcing plus garment printing and won his own contracts with national companies to embroider their workwear.
Around 2005, it was decided it would make sense to join forces and so Keith and Adrian became one company. Things were going well. Adrian won 2005/06 Young Business Man of the Year award in Oxfordshire! They bought their own industrial unit and expanded by opening another shop in Didcot. By 2008 the recession had hit badly and had a huge impact on the footfall in both the shops. Didcot did not work out and they had to close the shop. Due to the lease agreement and the financial difficulty that the recession brought, they had to close Burton Trading Ltd and after hard work and refinancing, reopened as South East Workwear Ltd.
Since 2008, both the shop and production machinery have been based at Coxeters House. We have all worked very hard as a family and have been very lucky to have had very loyal customers. There have been highs and lows along the way. We have gradually expanded as we have grown and invested as we need newer equipment to keep up with the latest processes.
Keith has now retired from the daily running of the business but still is very much a big part of the company. Pat, Keith’s wife who has also been working alongside Keith since the beginning, is still working 3 days a week. Viv, Adrian’s wife, has been involved since the garage days and does the accounts and also helps in production. Sam, Adrian and Viv’s youngest has been with them since 2016 and is the senior production technician. Jodie is their eldest and she has just started at the end of 2018 but already has picked up the running of the embroidery machines and is the marketing manager and also works in sales. It is a proper family run, third generation business, so we are pretty proud of that!
We are now here!! We wanted, as it is our 25thyear having the shop in Coxeters, to have a revamp. This is why we have chosen to have a range of casual wear, new brands and a skater shop. We hope everyone enjoys what we have tried to achieve.
We are proud to be one of Abingdon’s best kept secrets and look forward to the next 25 years of business.