24 July 2024, 16:19
By Simon Spinks Jul 11, 2024

Making a sustainable impact

This spring, Harrison Spinks published a new report outlining the impact of its ongoing sustainably-focused initiatives, from both the main bed business and its components manufacturing company. Here, group chairman Simon Spinks explains how the bedmaker is working to improve the planet while enriching its local environment, staff and communities …

As a business,
we’ve always wanted to do things differently, and we recognised quite early on the importance of creating mattresses, beds, and components in the most responsible and sustainable way. We are a purpose-driven organisation, with responsible innovation at the heart of everything we do.

We work together to help deliver what we believe is a leading position on ethical bedmaking and mattress production, taking a lead on innovation and sustainability across the Harrison Spinks businesses. We’re always reviewing and monitoring our environmental impact, and our ever-evolving strategy is a result of this.

We constantly challenge ourselves
to deliver innovations with the environment in mind, both locally and globally. It has been a journey of continuous innovation to change the overall mindset to sustainability, which has been a focus for us for over 10 years.

We have always had the vision of being home-grown and vertically integrated, which is why we purchased our farm back in 2009, enabling us to grow our own natural fillings just 18 miles away from our factory. We’re proud to pioneer mattresses that are completely free of glue, foam and fire-retardant chemicals, which enables us to tell our natural story and helps avoid our mattresses going to landfill at end of life.

We’ve proudly kept the tradition of weaving in Yorkshire, helping us produce our unique wool mattress ticking fabric that is naturally fire resistant – saving over 28 tonnes of FR chemicals being used each year [based on previous FR chemical processes].

The last 12 year has been one of review, baselining, and delivering a robust strategy that will guide us over the next decade. We have worked with consultants, employed leading sustainability and social responsibility advisor, Dr Louise Ellis-Jones as non-executive director, grown our dedicated sustainability team and created a steering group with meaningful workstreams to support this strategy. This has allowed us to review and drastically accelerate our approach.

We’ve made good progress.
We’ve been tracking and improving our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, reducing our direct emissions by -22% and indirect emissions by -11% in the past financial year alone. We saw these decrease from initiatives such as swapping to hybrid and electric vehicles, manufacturing efficiencies, and utilising renewable energy. We also track our Scope 3 emissions relating to our supply chain and business travel to understand and reduce our total impact, and are helping our industry partners reduce these as well.

Naturally fire-resistant wool mattress fabric, being woven in-house at the Harrison Spinks factory in Leeds

We have also adapted how and where we source materials more responsibly, such as partnering with British Wool for product that we can trace back to the farm it originates from, guaranteeing animal welfare and payment for farmers. We also upcycle clean, fashion-quality cashmere offcuts from luxury accessories manufacturer Alex Begg into our fillings, saving 1400kg of virgin cashmere each year.

Something else we’ve really stepped up is focusing our impact on people and communities locally in Yorkshire. We provide Leeds-based charity Zarach with monthly mattress donations for families in poverty, and have introduced a longer four-day working week which has improved job satisfaction in the factory and increased productivity, while reducing environmental impact.

The most challenging area
is probably tacking our Scope 3 reduction – this can be difficult as a manufacturer, as indirect emissions are much harder to control, so we’re always pushing innovation and working with our supply base. As an industry, we cannot improve without sustainable suppliers, which is why we have to work together as an industry, and partnerships between our suppliers and customers and colleagues are vital to keep improving this.

Our stockists are embracing our values.
Increasingly, we’re seeing our retailers not only supporting what we are doing, but holding us to account on all areas of sustainability – and rightly so. This is extremely motivating for us, as we want everyone in this industry to work towards the same goal, to be more responsible and accountable.

Our farm and natural fillings story have always resonated well with customers, so we are lucky in that respect, and it’s positive for our retailers, who take this and turn it into their story to connect with their own customers. Along with the report, we also work to provide additional learning and marketing opportunities to our internal teams and to our customers to help reiterate our core values which help us stand out from the crowd.

We’ve been able to reduce our energy consumption
in a number of ways, but some significant ones include compressing the factory team to a four-day week, and creating our energy taskforce, which has introduced process efficiencies across the business. The manufacturing team has also created innovative new spring coilers that are +60% more efficient than the previous standard machines.

Furthermore, our waste taskforce has helped with things like optimising our polypropylene usage, modifying the dimensions to increase the metreage in roll for encasing the micro coils, and we repurpose any clean production waste where we can.

We minimise costs
by doing as much as we can in-house, but that has always been our story. Any potential savings offset the cost of future innovations and sustainable developments. This is a constant process that needs funding to deliver our ongoing sustainable ambitions.

Our story overall resonates exceptionally well internationally.
Or peers have told us that our sustainable progress, as evidenced in our Impact Report, is ground-breaking within our industry. On the back of this, plus new product initiatives and a renewed strategy, we are strengthening our international sales team with new appointments and distributors, to expand our operations.

Read more from Simon in July's issue, and read the full Impact Report here.


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Oct 15, 2021 News

Simon Spinks awarded Ambassador accolade

Simon Spinks, group chairman of bedmaker Harrison Spinks, was last night awarded the prestigious Ambassador accolade at The Business Desk’s…

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