Recent news highlights the issues faced by parents when buying school uniforms for their children. Given the current “cost of living crisis” and the issues presented by the price of uniforms, leaving aside for these purposes the rights and wrongs of uniform policies (and whether school uniforms should have the school logo and badge etc.), one method of potentially reducing the cost to parents is for schools and local authorities to review their existing uniform contracts with their suppliers.
Issues to be considered by schools and local authorities:
Exclusivity provisions: are there any exclusivity provisions that prevent a school from procuring uniforms from other suppliers?
If this is the case, this means that the school is prohibited from entering contracts with other suppliers for parents to purchase the uniform.
Arguably, such provisions limit the number of retailers that parents can use when buying uniforms for their children, which could impact retail costs.
If there is no exclusivity, then there should be nothing to prevent a school/local authority from approaching another supplier (subject to our comments below on volume commitments).
Consider whether schools should have flexibility in the suppliers they can use and if they should opt to avoid contracts that include such provisions.
Volume commitments: are there provisions in the contract that set out minimum purchase obligations that schools (via the parents’ purchases of the uniform) need to commit to?
If so, such obligations will require parents to purchase a certain number/level of uniform items from the specified supplier within a set period.
Schools should consider the level of volume commitment that they agree to and whether such commitments align with the actual purchase levels by the parents.
If there is no volume commitment or exclusivity, schools can look at more cost-effective suppliers.
Pricing structures: are there provisions that allow the parties to review the cost of the uniform items within the lifetime of the contract?
If such obligations apply, schools should consider how often such reviews can take place and any factors that may impact the price of the uniform products.
Has the supplier simply put up prices without justification? Is there a mechanism in the contract that allows for this?
Early termination: how long does the contract run for? Is there an option to terminate early? Has the supplier complied with its obligations (and if not, could this allow a termination)?
If you are a school or local authority seeking assistance with any of the above, please contact a member of Wright Hassall's Commercial team.
This week has seen some sharp debate around the release of migration statistics, including barbed criticism of the Government for perceived failure to deliver on a Brexit promise. Stacey Lambert, Associate in Wright Hassall’s Business Immigration team, takes a closer look.
Elle Cass is the Head of Strategic Built Environment Growth at SLR Consulting, a firm specialising in sustainability consulting. She is a passionate advocate for DEI initiatives in the sector, and here talks to us about the benefits that better representation brings, as well as the challenges we still face in our collective journey towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.
With artificial intelligence (AI) rapidly advancing, the UK held the first ever AI Safety Summit (Summit) at Bletchley Park on 1 November and 2 November 2023 aiming to consider the risks of AI and discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action.