When John Lewis got in touch to tell me about their 70th year of UK textile manufacturing with Herbert Parkinson and expressed an interest in being chatting with me on Live Your Own Way, naturally, it was a yes. I have always been intrigued and impressed by the company and their reputation for good quality furnishings, so what a great opportunity to speak to two experts who together with their teams make British manufacturing great.
Both Nicola and Stuart have very impressive and interesting work backgrounds. To be able to keep the John Lewis’ production of homeware like a well oiled machine you need to really know your stuff so it was good to find out more on their careers over the years and how they have got their positions now. I was keen to know what drew Stuart to textiles and how Nicola transferred over to interiors ( in what seems a very smooth move ) from working more with food brands including Waitrose.
Herbert Parkinson itself has over two hundred and fifty partners working there so Stuart tells me all about the celebrations happening this year for their special birthday which will also include john Lewis partners living further afield than Darwen, Lancashire where the factory is based. It sounds like a great place to work and I especially love the ethos of family and friends working together and the companies apprenticeships to help and encourage school leavers.
The history is also fascinating. You will hear on the podcast how the business started and evolved in 1953 where the relationship with John Lewis all began. Although certain aspects have evolved, you can tell they still have the same values when it comes to all the versatile craftspeople and this is where Nicola tells me more about their unique products including bespoke duvets and window dressings.
I always think it’s important to appreciate products in your home and whoever made them. The time and effort and that has gone in. So, to hear about various stages of making their items was fascinating and I love the special touches they add which we discuss.
As well as talking about some of their new ranges – John Lewis have made some environmental pledges recently for the upcoming years including sofa re-use, mattress re-cycling and using sustainable textiles so Nicola tells me about them and how they plan to execute these plans.The Otley Sofa with a green ticking stripe is an example as it is made with 100% recycled materials.
I ask Nicola if and how they trend forecast and manage to keep everything on an even keel especially at busier times of the year when demands are higher. Does it make life easier having Herbert Parkinson in the UK ? Also how do they manage to keep everyone happy as I always feel there is something for everyone at John Lewis ?
As always, I have a nosey in to their own interior styles and both Stuart and Nicola give some generous advice for anyone looking to work in their industries.
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