European schools often include knit scarves in school colors in student uniforms, and Genesis Reflective Products, Kibworth, Leicester, England, saw an opportunity to expand into a new market with its reflective yarn products. The company, maker of reflective horse blankets and fire rescue blankets, integrated 3M Scotchlite® yarn into scarves that highlight students walking at night. The bright idea caught on, and 140 schools in Britain and Northern Ireland have ordered the scarves to date. “We feel the scarf has global potential and will be looking at other countries to sell into,” says Paul Hall, chief executive of Genesis Reflective Products.
After a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain dented the company’s horse-blanket business, Genesis invested £150,000 over two years to develop new products using Scotchlite yarn, including wheelchair blankets, dog leads and coats, rugby coats and safety ropes. Scotchlite incorporates tiny glass beads that bounce light back to the source, making it visible in the dark from any angle. According to road safety organizations, 75 children are killed or injured every week on U.K. roads, so the scarves have the potential to save lives. “I think they’re fantastic,” says Leicester road safety officer Lyn Rowe. “Children don’t like wearing hi-vis yellow jackets, whereas this is something they will wear.”