Textile descendant of Thomas Tuytens scores with premium protective accessories for horses and dogs. However, after the great online success in the Corona pandemic, the company collided with the new reality.
Hand-knitted green ear net, wool bell shoes, multifunctional ethnic rug or show rug with faux rabbit fur lining. The Kentucky Horsewear Collection offers something for every horse.
The successor to the company from Ronse is Thomas Tuytens (40), great-grandson of the founder of the nearly 100-year-old textile company Concordia from Wargame. Tuytens began his career in China, setting up a factory to produce synthetic fabrics for the family business. Tuytens soon felt like starting his own business. “Many Chinese people are pure businessmen. It was easy to stay in the family business. But I wanted to create something from scratch.
After returning from China, Tuytens, an avid horseman, takes odd jobs at a friend’s horse stables. There he found that many of the horse products were of poor quality. In 2010, Tuytens founded Global International Products. Initially, the company distributed accessories under license from the German equestrian brand Kentucky, which was later acquired by Tuytens. “I managed to combine my two passions: textiles and equestrian sports.”
Tuytens began selling special leg warmers for horses. But it was difficult to start this business because one pair of shin guards was enough for ten horses. ‘It was Back to realitysays Tuytens, in a body warmer bearing the KFC logo, on his company’s kitchen table in Ronse. I moved back in with my parents because I had no money left. I have no products or clients. It was toil and sweat. But the hungrier you are, the more creative you become.
Tuytens has been systematically expanding its range of protective accessories. That’s why he called on his wife Claudia Weber, head of product development, to try. The German has been participating in the Olympic Games as a “groom” (shepherd) of the best horses for years, so she knew very well what horses needed. “We always assume there is a problem,” says Tuetnes. This is how my wife came up with the idea of \u200b\u200bmaking headbands from faux fur, so that the horses would not hurt their heads during transportation. And we’ve developed shin guards with an added bamboo shield that prevents horseshoe penetration.
Tuytens currently sells 3,000 articles, which he himself produced in Asia. Tuytens buys many fabrics from the Concordia family company. KFC aims for “affordable high end”. The company benefits from a certain arrogant influence among horse lovers. “Riding horses is not a cheap hobby. People see their horses as children. Today, 30 percent of Kentucky Horseshoe’s business comes from horse blankets, which cost an average of $150. There are ten blankets for each horse: a summer blanket, a fly blanket, a winter blanket, and a stable blanket.” and a mi-saison blanket.
The vast majority of clients are women. “Horse riding is a female sport among amateurs and more a male sport among professionals,” says Tuetnes. “The advantage is that we have a long service life for each customer. We try to connect young pony riders with us and then we have a bond for life. The Belgian market accounts for barely 10 percent of the turnover. Half of the sales are in Germany and France. Belgium is a reference in the field of horses, but we are a country Small.So we have to export.
The corona crisis gave rides, and by extension runes, a huge boost. Last year, Tuytens sold 600,000 units, largely to (B2B) businesses and now also directly to individuals. Turnover doubled in 2021 to 21 million euros. From this point of view, the company achieved a gross margin of 6 million euros and a net profit of 3.4 million euros. KFC recently opened its third new warehouse in the industrial area of Ronse since moving in 2019.
Last year things were a little more difficult. “Covid was a godsend for us. But now there is a complete shift. Since this summer, we have seen a shift from the Internet to stores and events. So we are again with a stand at events and fairs. I would never have dared to think that during the corona pandemic.
Trading volume also hit the point for the first time. Tuytens candidly admits, “It’s my fault.” I was less involved with clients. Due to our growth, we slept a bit in 2021. I did miss a bit of hunger with the vendors who sold out very easily. Our motto was: Best Service for Best Customers. But our DNA has been changed because of Corona. Everyone is equal before the law on the site. Almost anyone who buys something gets the same benefits as a big customer. it does not make sense. That’s why I’m now visiting big clients again. They say they missed me.
Meanwhile, Tuytens is also focusing on the dog market. With Kentucky Dogwear, he sells waterproof coats and leashes for his four-legged friends, among other things. The dogs branch now accounts for 10 percent of the business. “The market for dogs is 10 times bigger than the market for horses,” says Tuetines. “Pet supplies are either very expensive or cheap. We are in the middle segment: we sell dog collars for 30 euros. But we also sell a terrazzo floor planter for €120. This is better than a 5 euro plastic bagel in your kitchen. The dog and accessories are also part of the interior.
Tuytens has now formulated more new plans. He and his wife built an elegant breeding farm in Oudenaarde, where horses overlook the rolling hills of the Flemish Ardennes from their private balcony. The couple’s fifteen horses also appear in a Kentucky photo shoot. And on weekends, Tuytens participates in jumping competitions as an amateur. “On Saturday, I get up at six in the morning, go to the stable and ride my horse. It’s a passion. It’s hard to explain.”
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- Founded in 2010 by the owner, Thomas Tuetnes.
- Headquarters: Ronse.
- Develops and sells protective accessories for Kentucky Horsewear and Kentucky Dogwear.
- Turnover (2021): €21 million.
- Net profit: 3.4 million euros.
- Staff: 40.
- It sold 600,000 pieces last year.