Canteen move brings workers together and cuts energy costs at knitwear firm
LUXURY knitwear firm John Smedley welcomed Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to its factory to open a new canteen that is expected to save the business tens of thousands of pounds in energy costs.
The company, based in Derbyshire since 1774, was being hit with massive heating costs amounting to some £800,000 per annum.
Before moving the canteen, John Smedley straddled Lea Road, in Lea Mills, and had to heat buildings on the east side of the road, which was costly and inefficient.
The move also leaves the east side of the site vacant, with the potential for redevelopment.
Managing director Ian Maclean said: "The energy costs associated with running this complex are massive with such a sprawling site.
"There was a steam pipe running under the road that provided heat to the west side of the site and the heat that was lost from it meant that there was a strip where the snow never settled.
"With the canteen in the middle of the site it brings people closer together, which is good for morale, and it barely needs heating at all. We estimate it will save between £20,000 and £30,000 each year on our energy bill."
It is part of a raft of measures to reduce costs at John Smedley, which is reacting to harsh trading conditions.
Mr Maclean said: "Our cash position has improved and we are optimistic that our profits will be up, but that is because of the efficiencies we are making in terms of asset management rather than increased sales.
"To grow sales we need to invest and at the moment we are looking at a variety of different ways to raise funds for investment."
Mr McLoughlin, also the MP for Derbyshire Dales, was invited to Lea Mills to open the new facility.
Mr McLoughlin said: "It is very important that manufacturing firms like John Smedley survive and prosper.
"It employs 250 people here in Lea, its garments are sold all over the world and John Smedley shows that British manufacturing can compete on a global stage, and as a country this is what we have to do.
"It is fascinating to see the latest technology and design work being carried out in such historic buildings."