17 Degrees Mag


Falkirk Business Hub, Falkirk, FK1 1LL

Featured Stories

House of Henderson: Third Generation Pushing Things Forward

Nestled in the picturesque town of Stirling, House of Henderson stands tall as one of Scotland’s longest-established kilt makers and gents outfitters, bearing a rich legacy of exceptional craftsmanship and impeccable service.  

Founded by Robert Henderson in 1923, R.R. Henderson Ltd was established in the Clackmannanshire town of Dollar as a gentleman’s outfitter also providing school uniform and sportswear to the local community and beyond. As future expansion witnessed further branches open in both Callander and Alva, the business began to firmly establish its presence across the region. 

In 1947, R.R. Henderson Ltd opened its iconic store at 6-8 Friars Street in Stirling, a location that would remain its cherished home for the next seven decades. Situated just a stone’s throw away from the majestic Stirling Castle, the store diversified its offerings to include an extensive range of high quality products, from children’s toys to ladies’ clothing and an expanding collection of gentlemen’s Highlandwear. 

After several years working across the UK within the menswear retail sector, in 1983 Barry Henderson became the second generation to join the family business. Charting its new course Barry embarked on a transformational journey, shifting much of the focus over time towards classic casual and designer clothing while still maintaining kilts as the heart and soul 

of the business. By 2001, the business would be rebranded as House of Henderson.

Current and future successes now lie in the hands of Jordan and Lewis, grandsons of founder Robert and the third generation of Henderson to carry the baton of this esteemed family-run business. Driven by a joint passion for Scottish heritage, clothing and retail, following previous careers in financial services the brothers have refocused the business around its core foundations of made to measure Highlandwear, formal dress hire, gents tailoring and premium Scottish gifts and accessories. House of Henderson also remain an official uniform supplier for the prestigious Dollar Academy, a relationship which now spans over a century.

Whilst working innovatively to introduce fresh perspectives on their time-honoured craft, the duo pride themselves on remaining a traditional retailer who have adapted to meet the needs and wants of a modern customer, whilst maintaining core values of service, reliability and a high-quality product. In utilising social media and online platforms to reach a broader audience; the business continues to welcome an ever expanding client base across the UK and internationally, drawn by the allure of authentic Highlandwear and a personalised customer experience.

House of Henderson now offer one of Scotland’s largest selections of Highlandwear. Their formal hire service caters to weddings and events of all sizes and with their own stock on hand, they can accommodate even last-minute requests. In servicing a diverse client base, the business focuses on providing as wide and varied a selection as possible whilst staying in touch with popular designs and trends. Their exclusive ‘Spirit’ range of tartans designed in house continue to grow year on year as a modern alternative to more traditional tartans also on offer.

For customers wishing to purchase their outfit House of Henderson offer a wide range of off the peg, made to measure and fully bespoke tailoring options. This boasts an extensive catalogue of over 8,000 of the finest quality tartans, tweeds and linings used for customising kilts, jackets, trousers and bespoke suits. As customers take part in the creation of their own unique outfits, the family’s commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail ensures that every thread is looking perfect. 

For those seeking to embrace Scottish heritage and style out with traditional Highlandwear, an array of premium clothing, gifts and accessories are also available. From men’s Harris Tweed blazers, trousers and waistcoats to ladies shawls, hats and gloves; all are available for purchase in store and online with worldwide shipping options available.  

As the business marks its momentous 100-year centenary, 2023 has already seen the outfitter for the third year running pick up the prestigious accolade of Best Men’s Outfitter at the Scottish Confetti Wedding Awards, cementing its place as one of the country’s most awarded Highlandwear and Groomswear suppliers.

The Henderson family’s passion for their craft, combined with their commitment to evolving with the times has ensured that House of Henderson remains a beacon of tradition and innovation, bridging the past and present for generations to come. As they celebrate a century of excellence, one thing is clear—the House of Henderson is destined to shape the future of Highlandwear while cherishing its remarkable history.

In conversation with Jordan and Lewis Henderson

What are the core values that have been passed down through generations in your business?

Quality, Service, Reliability & Commitment.

We pride ourselves on our knowledge, attention to detail and genuine in-house expertise which is not always easy to find. Providing competitively priced high-quality products has always been our priority alongside our desire to support Scottish and UK based manufacturers, delivering a personal service which goes above and beyond that usually experienced on the high street. Fostering long term relationships is also important. Reliability and commitment comes via a strong work ethic and unwavering dedication to our industry which has allowed us to adapt over time and grow our customer base with confidence.

What are the advantages of being a family business, especially in comparison to larger corporations?

Maintaining a long-term outlook, continuity and being able to commit to a shared vision are benefits we have seen in running a smaller family firm. Having both worked for larger corporations in the past, we have first-hand experience that they can sometimes be overburdened by rules and bureaucracy. Our ethos is to create a relaxed and supportive working environment in which everybody feels valued and part of the Henderson ‘family’. Our full-time team have all been in their roles for at least five years, so loyalty then starts to play its part in the ongoing success of the business.

What strategies have you used to adapt and evolve your business over time?

It’s important for any business not to be stuck in the past or get too bogged down by a ‘how things used to be’ mentality. Technology has had a huge impact on the retail landscape, so ongoing investment in our digital platforms remains a key focus. The last few years have seen us develop new tools including an online booking and outfit builder platform for our hire business and further invest in our online store, an area that has grown from nothing to a substantial part of our revenues. Wedding days are no longer such private events and social media has enabled us to showcase customer photos and our product ranges to a wider geographical client base.

Traditional Highlandwear like all clothing is still subject to trends and it’s our job to keep up and deliver on those. The last fifteen years have without doubt seen some exciting design and innovation spread across the industry, particularly in jacket styles and meeting the desire for more muted and weathered colour combinations. Both our bespoke jacket service and more notably our ‘Spirit’ range of tartans have all been created in response to these, where close collaboration with a select weaving mill has allowed us to launch a modern range of designs exclusive only to House of Henderson.

How does your family business contribute to the local community or industry?

With our personal and business connections to Stirling now stretching back over seventy five years, it’s a city we hold very close to our heart. Having representation on the board of ‘Go Forth Stirling’ enables us to have a positive voice towards projects and services that can benefit local businesses, our customers and visitors to the city centre. We also actively participate in raising funds for local causes with the Stirling and Bridge of Allan Roundtable and are members of the Glasgow Incorporation of Weavers; a charitable society aimed at preserving the textile craft whilst fundraising for educational causes.  

How do you find a balance between family time and business commitments?

As we both have young children, maintaining flexibility around our working schedules to maximise family time is important to us. Alternating weekends and home working where possible both help us to achieve this. The summer months in particular can be an extremely busy time for any business involved in weddings and tourism, so it’s vital to offset this against other interests and taking time out. We both enjoy pursuits such as playing golf, live music and family holidays. It’s also important to set boundaries. When you meet socially as a wider family outside of ‘work’ our main piece of advice would be – try not to talk about business! 

What are your long-term goals for the business, and how do you plan to achieve them?

We want to continue to drive forward with our ambitions as a one of Scotland’s leading providers of quality Highlandwear. The ‘death of the high street’ is an overused phrase. There are still plenty of exciting growth opportunities ahead for retailers who can strike an effective balance between their online and offline experience whilst differentiating on service – and that’s where we’ll continue to focus our energy.

What advice would you give to other families considering starting or maintaining a family-run business?

Whether starting from scratch or considering succession, it can be invaluable taking time to consider the specific set of skills, strengths and even weaknesses each person will bring to the table and how these can piece together successfully.  As family members you will be required to wear several different hats. No job can be seen as too big or small so be prepared to get your hands dirty as and when the business requires. Above all else ensuring it’s something you are jointly passionate about will hugely increase the chances of success and longevity – you have to enjoy it!