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Major investment pays off for wool plant as demand for fibre grows
A Bradford wool processing plant which has benefited from multi-million pounds worth of investment over the past five years is beating worldwide competition due to its green credentials.
New equipment in the combing department at Haworth Scouring, along with the re-introduction of wool sorting, is the latest stage of an investment programme which has seen owners Curtis Wools Direct, based at Cottingley, inject a seven-figure sum into the business it acquired in 2008.
Joint managing director Martin Curtis said the company would maintain its investment to keep Haworth Scouring at the forefront of world markets as wool prices remained high and demand for the natural fibre grew.
He said: “We have focused on ensuring that our operations in Bradford are of the highest standards environmentally, which means that our competitors need to catch up which is an expensive business. Being conscious of our responsibility to the environment is not only morally right but has also boosted business for Howarth Scouring.
“There has been a fall in demand for carpet wool by UK manufacturers due to the austerity climate where people have deferred buying large items, but overall business remains strong and our services are much in demand.”
The firm’s double line of scouring tubs use mainly recycled water, which by the end of the process is clear. The plant has also significantly driven down energy consumption and adapted the latest computerised packing and processing technology.
In addition to processing, demand is high for the services of the ENco Global testing laboratory, which was installed at Cashmere Works in 2010 after being rescued by Curtis Wools. The laboratory provides a range of testing services for national and international clients.
The latest combing machinery follows the installation in 2011 of 18 new combing and carding machines and ancillary equipment, which created about ten new jobs at Cashmere Works, Birksland Street, which employs about 100 people.
Bradford’s Lord Mayor Councillor Dale Smith and Lady Mayoress Mrs Margaret Smith saw the new developments during a civic visit to the company, which is the largest buyer of British wool from the Bradford-based British Wool Marketing Board and, with Norwegian partner Viking Wool, operates direct farm-buying operations in southern Ireland. They also buy wool from 800 crofters in the Shetland Islands and have bases in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Martin Curtis added: “We’ve made great progress at Haworth Scouring thanks in no small measure to its managing director David Gisbourne and his team. We remain confident about the future of our business and for wool, which as a natural fibre meets the increasing desire to consume products that do not damage the environment.”