Our Philosophy & Values
Here at Johnstons of Elgin we are committed to reducing our environmental impact and making sure that we treat our employees, suppliers and partners in a positive and responsible way. We aren’t doing this because we believe that all modern businesses should (though it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that lightening a company’s social and environmental footprint makes good economic and business sense in the world we now live in). We’re doing it because it is a philosophy that has been deeply ingrained in our company’s culture since its founding over 225 years ago. Given this heritage, we thought it was time we shouted a little louder about the things we’re doing right and tried to pinpoint those areas in which improvements can still be made.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Throughout its long history Johnstons of Elgin has always looked to serve the communities within which it operates. Every year we seek to embrace more widely our local communities in Elgin and Hawick, to communicate openly and fairly with our suppliers and to ensure that the needs of our customers are being met. These values are ingrained in the very essence of the company and in the personalities of the entrepreneurs who have run this company. As custodians of the Johnstons family business we are committed to maintaining these values - and to building on them.
LOOKING AFTER AND NURTURING OUR PEOPLE
Johnstons of Elgin has been one of the largest independent employers in the Elgin area since the mid-1800s and we are committed to retaining this position. All our employees are valued members of the Johnstons of Elgin team. We are an equal opportunities employer and support our staff with personal and professional training. We are especially concerned with the preservation of traditional craft skills and do our utmost to ensure the conservation of these special, and increasingly rare, skills. We also operate an employee awards scheme and social events programme, and produce an in-house magazine for our employees.
SUPPORTING AND ENGAGING IN OUR COMMUNITY
Johnstons of Elgin is supportive of local community projects in Elgin, Hawick and the wider region in which we operate. Rooted in our local communities in Elgin and Hawick, we are fully engaged with our local schools, businesses and other partner organisations. We believe it is in everyone’s best interests to work together and we happily cross-promote other local and Scottish businesses where possible. We regularly welcome school groups to our mill and heritage centre and, on a more immediate level, we try to carry out our business in a way that minimises any potential disturbance to our neighbours – we reduce noise at unsociable hours, for example, and keep our buildings and grounds smart.
ENSURING WE'RE ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE
Johnstons of Elgin is a five-star VisitScotland tourist attraction. All public areas are fully wheelchair accessible and we go to great lengths to ensure our visitors have a good experience when they visit us, whatever their individual needs. Our mill tours are conducted by experienced guides (hand-outs in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Russian are available for non English-speaking visitors) and we can cater for more specific needs, given a little advance notice. We also offer designated disabled car parking and WC facilities and welcome assistance dogs.
MAKING THE BEST; BEING THE BEST - OUR PRODUCTS
Genuine craftsmanship goes into everything we produce at Johnstons of Elgin. The result is a range of authentic products with real longevity. Wool was first referred to in the Johnstons of Elgin records in 1801 and, since then, we have continued to choose it as a key raw material. As a sustainable, renewable, biodegradable, natural fibre, with premiere performance characteristics, we believe that wool is hard to beat. It also provides and retains warmth while being naturally flame retardant. It is natural, then, that we should choose to support the Campaign for Wool, a nationwide initiative that encourages consumers to “live naturally – choose wool” (the campaign is also championed by HRH the Prince of Wales).
Our Upcycled Range is lovingly crafted using oddments salvaged from our mill, each piece features materials available at the time of making so every product is completely unique.
Through our shops and cafes we also offer our visitors a choice of fair-trade, local and organic food and drink.
The cashmere we use is blended from fibres carefully selected from Mongolia and, China. We combine the different qualities of these fibres in a way which optimises the performance of our fabrics and allows us to provide the best combination of durability and hand feel on any given product.
Most of the cashmere we use is gathered from goats which have been herded in the traditional ways which have been used for hundreds of years. This unique lifestyle means that the goats live an almost wild existence and helps to preserve these fragile communities.
We use fibre from the equivalent of around one million goats each year and each herder will typically look after around 200 goats. Although working directly with herders and farmers is difficult we are working as a founder member of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance to develop through them, sustainability programmes. By working closely with herder families the SFA aims to continuously improve the situation for both goats and herder communities.
RESPECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Johnstons of Elgin constantly strives to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions and waste, both by implementing new technologies and by instituting best practice within the company. Some of the environmental initiatives we have instituted within the company so far include the following:
New, greener, technology is invested in where there is a payback justification.
Energy-efficient equipment is prioritised when making new purchases.
Energy-saving technologies are invested in wherever possible.
The environment is taken into account in all major business decisions.
Air miles are reduced, where possible; staff are encouraged to take the train or car share for journeys within the UK.
Heat exchangers in use in our dye vats reduce energy use.
Paper, cardboard and aluminium are recycled at all our sites.
Our direct mail brochures are printed on paper sourced from FSC-certified supplies,and mailed in 100% compostable packaging.
An on-site effluent plant means we can treat any textile waste before it enters the local infrastructure.
The modern dyes we use are synthetic, but they are all organic.
Batch ends of fibre and cut-offs are re-used and re-dyed to produce sale-line scarves and other products.
Johnstons of Elgin’s collaboration with knitwear repair, revive and recycling company Cashmere Circle means our customers can enjoy wearing our garments for longer.
Employees are encouraged to work in an environmentally responsible manner.
OUR SUSTAINABLE INITIATIVES
We understand that the choices we make today will impact the future of our planet, oceans and generations to come. As a result, we are committed to continually improving our sustainability and are proud to work with natural, renewable and biodegradable fibres including Vicuña, Cashmere and wool.
We actively reduce our environmental footprint by utilising Scotland's soft, free-flowing water in our processes and using energy from renewable sources wherever possible. We carry out all of our manufacturing processes on-site, minimising our air miles.
In Mongolia, we work with communities to support sustainable practices in Cashmere production, and at home in Scotland we invest in our people, understanding that they are at the very heart of everything we do. We know that today's actions will shape the future, which is why sustainability has always been a part of our story.