In these times of change, and while international travel remains restricted, there has never been a better time to focus on what’s close to home. With the ability to carry out all of our Cashmere and Merino Wool manufacturing processes in one location, Johnstons of Elgin continues to champion British craftsmanship; an example of the best of British brands.
A FLEXIBLE APPROACH
Johnstons of Elgin CEO Simon Cotton believes that flexibility and continuous development are essential to our business and help us to keep moving in the right direction. Simon shared his thoughts with Kate Hill, founder of 'Make it British', an organisation dedicated to promoting British manufacturers, in a recent podcast.
'It's a continual challenge to keep the skills level moving forward. Very often, we ask people to multi-skill so that we can transfer if demand changes,' he said.
To achieve this level of diversity, we have our own programme of recruitment, training and personal development, achieving accreditation for our investment in young people and commendation for HR excellence. We operate a Schools Interaction Programme for primary and secondary school children and run our own hands-on apprenticeship programmes.
And training doesn’t stop there. Adapting to change and encouraging employees to learn new skills throughout their career is what keeps the brand fresh. Simon explained: 'We don’t just want to replace the person retiring after 30 years in the company, we want to make the next person coming in even better and able to do even more.'
Within our Elgin site, the only vertical mill in Scotland, we can give the world's finest fibres all the love and care they need in one place. As a result, we have total control over all stages of the manufacturing process and can minimise transportation. Our woven Cashmere and Merino Wool products are designed, crafted, and meticulously finished under one UK roof.
Our knitted pieces come to life in our Hawick mill, including the most intricate of Hand Intarsia designs. Heritage skills collaborate with state-of-the-art technology to create the hero players in our seasonal collections.
Our unique craftsmanship and commitment to innovation set us apart from other brands, and it all happens here, on British soil.
Kate Hill believes that Britain is home to some of the best craftsmanship in the world. We know that to achieve such fine craftsmanship, you can’t rush the process. As a result, we take our time and apply meticulous attention to detail to everything we do.
When creating an intricate Intarsia design, knitting one sweater can take up to 16 hours. Each colour is carefully laid by hand, one row at a time, using a technique that utilises over 200 years of expertise. One sleeve can take around two and a half hours to complete, while the front and back panels can each take between four and five hours. The separate components are then delicately linked together. As many as 37 people can be involved in the production of one of our scarves, throws or jumpers.
Ensuring our products are made with the finest fibres, without rushing the process, means our customers can be sure their purchases will last for more than a lifetime.
A ROYAL SEAL OF APPROVAL
We are in good company among the best of British companies as Royal Warrant holders. The Royal Warrant of Appointment to The Prince of Wales was awarded to us in 2013 for our Estate Tweeds. Our tweed designs form a significant part of our heritage and continue to feature in our contemporary seasonal collections.
It has never been more important to cherish our local communities and support local businesses. During the UK lockdown, we were delighted to contribute to NHS Charities Together by creating our Limited Edition Cashmere Rainbow Scarf. We donated £100 from the sale of each one to support our NHS. Our stores have now reopened as have the restaurants in our Scottish mills. We continue to source exceptional food and drinks from local suppliers to serve in our eateries.
In these challenging times, we are all compelled to pull together. As a business, we have overcome adversity in the past and hope to do so again. We are proud of our 222-year history and strive to remain among the best of British brands.