Gefärbt in der Wolle

Die Wooltex-Fabrik befindet sich in einem Teil Großbritanniens, der seit Jahrhunderten im Zentrum der Textilherstellung steht. Es ist ein Ort, an dem Tradition und Innovation Hand in Hand gehen.

Wooltex ist einer der langjährigsten Partnerlieferanten von Kvadrat und ein Spezialist für die Herstellung von Textilien aus Naturwolle. Richard Brook, Technischer Direktor von Wooltex, erläutert hier die Bemühungen seines Unternehmens, eine immer effizientere und nachhaltigere Produktion zu erreichen, sowie die Ehre, mit der "Wunderfaser" der Natur zu arbeiten.

Auf welche Weise kommt eine enge Beziehung zu Kvadrat Ihrem Unternehmen zugute?
Einen so großen Kunden zu haben, ermöglicht es uns, unser Geschäft schlank zu führen; wir brauchen zum Beispiel keine großen Vertriebs- und Marketingabteilungen. Wir können unsere Investitionen auf die Anforderungen von Kvadrat konzentrieren; die Maschinen, die wir kaufen, die Mitarbeiter, die wir einstellen, und die Ausbildung, in die wir investieren, können speziell auf die Bedürfnisse von Kvadrat ausgerichtet werden. Außerdem ist das Geschäft von Kvadrat nicht saisonabhängig, was bedeutet, dass wir in der Regel keine Hochs und Tiefs in unserer Produktion haben. Sie ist beständig und konsistent und ermöglicht es uns daher, effizient zu sein.

Wir arbeiten seit mehr als 20 Jahren mit Kvadrat zusammen und freuen uns, dass alle die gleichen Ziele verfolgen und auf die gleichen Ziele hinarbeiten.

Tell us about Wooltex's role in the culture and economy of the local area.
Last year we purchased around 12 million pounds worth of goods from within a 20mile radius of our mill. We buy locally whenever we can, thereby creating jobs for the local economy. The textile industry has substantially declined in this area and so our input is especially important.

We have very close partnerships with local suppliers that go beyond the usual. There is a chain of small businesses that are each extremely reliant on one another: Our dyers, finishers and spinners are largely within a 30minute radius. Most are family businesses now in their 3rd or 4th generation and have generations of manufacturing knowledge.

It is good for the local economy and community that a company like Wooltex is thriving. We want to keep skills in this area and so we hire apprentices to learn the industry, staff training is very important to us. We also work very closely with Huddersfield University and the local Textile Centre of Excellence. This year Wooltex won a Queens Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade, something we are all very proud of.

Can you tell us a little about the geography of the area?
The local geography and climatic are an important part of why Huddersfield is the centre of wool manufacturing in the UK - the textile industry was born here during the Industrial Revolution. The area is surrounded by the Pennine mountains. Weather systems coming from the Atlantic hit the mountains and cause heavy rainfall on the western side of the hills (Lancashire). This wet weather is best suited to cotton manufacturing and the area became the world centre for cotton fabric production in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. On the eastern side of the mountains where Huddersfield is situated, rainfall is less and the conditions are more suitable to the production of wool. In addition, the rock formations in Huddersfield result in an abundance of ‘soft’ water, vital for the finishing of wool textiles.

What are you doing to make your production more efficient and sustainable?
Our business has grown enormously in the last few years and so there has been an almost constant investment in warping and weaving machines to increase capacity. Production on our new machines is more than three times faster, making us much more efficient. Our investment in new machinery and processes is now almost complete. Part of this includes a state-of-the-art dyeing facility and the first UK wool-finishing department to open for many decades. The aim is to improve our competitiveness, make us more responsive to the needs of Kvadrat, and to reduce our impact on the environment.

The new machines we have installed use much less energy and water. For example, our new dyeing machines use only a few litres of water per kilogram of wool in comparison to 20 litres previously. 85% of the water we use is recycled and we employ solar energy for some of the power in the mill. We are also exploring the possibility of finishing fabrics without the need for any chemicals or water at all! In addition, Wooltex is a virtually zero waste company and we recycle all our cardboard, oil, plastics, etc.

Protecting the environment is very important to everyone at Wooltex and we of course specialise in one of the most sustainable of all fibres: wool. Wool is natural, sustainable; it is biodegradable, energy efficient - if it were invented today, it would be called a wonder fibre!

How has your wool production changed over the years? Or is fundamentally the same as it has always been?
The basic principles of wool manufacturing have changed little. However, machinery used today is faster, more efficient, computer controlled, and is more environmentally friendly. There is a strong sense of tradition in this industry but people are very adaptable to change and improvement.

What are the future ambitions of the mill in terms of sustainability?

The mill is already accredited to ISO 9000 and we expect to achieve ISO 14000 by the end of this year. We will continue to monitor energy usage and look at alternative sources of water and the most energy efficient machines. We are also increasingly careful with our building, we make sure it is well insulated, uses LED lighting and we are even currently trying to reduce noise for the benefit of our neighbours (the mill still sits alongside the homes of our workers as it always did). We are even working with Kvadrat on an exciting project, still in its early stages, to make use of our waste yarn.