It follows the 60-year-old family firm investing £4½million in the site where it can now digitally print jersey and cotton fabrics. The waste-cutting processes “deliver significant water and energy savings,” says the chief executive Christopher Nieper.
The business, which turned over £17.4 million in 2020 and employs 300, already has inhouse sewing, knitting and catalogue printing operations.
It plans to extend its apprenticeship programme and last year scooped a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.
“For decades cheap labour has encouraged the fashion industry to manufacture overseas with a disastrous effect on jobs here,” says Nieper.
“Currently two-thirds of emissions from UK clothing occur overseas. Manufacturing in Britain makes sustainable sense and businesses accountable.
“Printing and dyeing accounts for over 70 percent of the total carbon emissions in garment production. It’s not acceptable to shift the problem to where it is out of sight and out of mind. A garment from our factory creates 47 percent less emissions than a similar one made overseas.”
The eco-friendly Supreme Green Cotton yarn the company uses is grown in Greece by family firm Vavaressos and woven in Austria.
“It’s unusual in our sector to have such a transparent and short supply chain,” adds Nieper.
“Recruiting is the best single biggest problem in our industry, but British fashion production is now a growth industry and offers a wealth of career options.”
The company is looking for potential dressmakers of all abilities, from experienced seamstresses to complete beginners, hobby dressmakers and those wanting to retrain.
“We used to have to source from all over the place,” reflects Nieper. “Producing our own textiles as well as making our own garments will bring more jobs and increase prospects for our town. Our aim is to be the greenest textile manufacturer in Europe.”