Cashmere Stoles and Continuing World-Class Delivery - A Message from our Managing Director

Cashmere Stoles and Continuing World-Class Delivery - A Message from our Managing Director

Grab a brew and have a read of Managing Director Oliver Platts piece. Here, Oliver reflects on his time with the company, talks about progressing and nurturing the raw talent within the team, and how we promote iconic fabrics and accessories, such as Joshua Ellis' famous cashmere stoles.

Following half-a-dozen years as Sales Director in London for a prominent British Luxury brand, it was a real delight for me to be asked to take over as Managing Director of Joshua Ellis.

Joshua Ellis’ reputation in the textile industry is well known, but what really surprised me was its incredible history, variety of products, and how they have remained so loyal to their Yorkshire roots and community for so long.

The industry is far more vast than it’s given credit for, with more than 4,200 businesses producing nearly £6bn of materials, and employing in excess of 64,000 people.

It is also clear that in many cases the perception of the industry is one of the Victorian ‘dark satanic mills’ - which simply isn’t the case.

I’m now in my fourth year with the company, and over the last few years, we have invested over £1m on new machinery and technology, in order to continually improve our efficiency and output.

It clearly underlines how hard we work to maintain our exceptional quality, delivery and customer service, and I truly believe that we have a world class team at every stage of the process - from design to delivery.

Our customer base is a who’s who of the global luxury industry. I remember pre-covid, when I would take great pride walking down Bond Street or Madison Avenue and looking at the amazing brands that we supply with fabrics or accessories.

There’s been plenty of changes and development too, and our product mix moved quickly from 90% fabrics and 10% accessories in 2016, to 50/50 by 2019, which in that time saw turnover almost double.

We then launched an annual Spring scarf collection, a home accessory offer, and in 2018 we opened our e-commerce store which now accounts for 10% of turnover.

Our Joshua Ellis branded product is also the fastest growing sector in the business, and now accounts for 30% of sales, that’s up from 15% in 2017.

This is particularly strong in Far Eastern markets such as Japan where there is still a strong demand for high-quality British-made goods.

Sustainability

The environmental impact of how we all work is a huge talking point, and environmental sustainability is high on our agenda. It’s one of our ongoing development goals.

Natural fibres that we use such wool are beautiful, sustainable, ecological and create the most incredible fabrics, but they can behave and react differently for no discernible reason so quality control is of the utmost importance, particularly with the level of customer we are working with.

One of my quickest learning curves when I joined the business was understanding the various issues that are thrown up in the production and implementation processes, to improve the continuity of production.

I learn from our production team every day and we are constantly striving to innovate new products and improve the quality and consistency of existing ones.

When I joined, I was also amazed by the fact that the average time of people working in the mill was more than 40 years.

This is a wonderful thought and testament to the previous owners and management teams that have cultivated such a strong team ethic.

We used that as a base but also added to the team where necessary too. We have committed on average to three new apprentices per year and we work with the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield to ensure that, along with on-the-job training, these young people receive a well-rounded overview of the business as well as qualifications that they can use for their future careers (hopefully at Joshua Ellis) but elsewhere as well.

The global luxury market is shifting quickly, and the current pandemic has accelerated a lot of trends that were already under way.

Sustainability and environmental credentials are now of paramount importance so as a vertical mill (we buy our cashmere fibre at source and control every aspect of production) we are already well placed to service our customers on this basis.

As an early member of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, we are working towards a fully traceable and sustainable cashmere supply chain within the next few years.

Cashmere stole

If you like cashmere or cashmere clothing, then our versatile cashmere stole selection is definitely worth a look. We only use pure cashmere and we stay true to our heritage and Yorkshire roots whilst injecting a modern feel.

While the industry evolves quickly the one thing that doesn’t really change is the hard work and dedication of our team to their craft, and we are immensely proud that the products we make here in our corner of West Yorkshire, are shown on catwalks and flagship stores around the world.

Only by maintaining the highest levels of quality and production can we continue to build on the recent success of the business and ensure the company’s survival for another 250 years.

If you’d like to get in touch with a member of our team and discuss anything raised in the article, then do get in touch today. We welcome your feedback.

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