Home / News / Inspired by aerospace: Moving John Smedley from craft to manufacture

Inspired by aerospace: Moving John Smedley from craft to manufacture


Leaders from John Smedley will explain their journey of helping the longstanding knitwear manufacturer to tackle the issue of waste through production, while maintaining quality and embracing continuous improvement, at the upcoming Sustainability in UK Textiles conference on 28 September in London.

“John Smedley has many stories to tell from its long history, explains MD Ian Maclean MBE. “At the same time, we want to write new stories for the future. The climate crisis and energy transition will drive much of the narrative over the next 25 years – so how will John Smedley survive and thrive? The history of John Smedley is one of an obsession with quality, but the challenge has always been to deliver quality at a reasonable cost.

“We have not been very good at controlling that cost as we watch most of our waste being burned, or ending up in landfill. With the help of new thinking from Sharing In Growth (SiG), we may be beginning to address the problem for the better in a structured and long lasting way. SiG have spent years working with small and medium-sized manufacturing firms who form the backbone of the supply chain for the aerospace industry in the UK, and we think much of their experience is transferrable into our business. At Sustainability in UK Textiles, we will explain how SiG have worked with John Smedley and where the new thinking might take us.”

Ian will be joined by technical director Tim Clark and SiG’s Ali Gower to outline their progress in waste management but how this approach can be widened much further to challenging all process and assumptions in all areas of the business.


Solutions, lessons and definitions

The second UKFT Sustainability conference on 28 September in London will build on the success of the 2022 event by providing clear, industry-relevant help and guidance specifically for the UK textile industry. The speakers will offer advice on how to improve performance, measure and monitor progress, and communicate environmental credentials. The conference will give a clearer overview of the relevant environmental merits (or otherwise) of various fibres and certification schemes and an outline of the current landscape for sustainability legislation.

Registration is now open for leaders in UK textile manufacturing. Space is limited so unfortunately we are unable to offer places for stakeholders from the wider UK textile industry. If you are from a business manufacturing textiles in the UK and wish to apply for a place, please contact info@ukft.org


About the speakers

Ian Maclean John Smedley Sustainability in UK Textiles

Ian Maclean MBE has been the Managing Director of John Smedley for 13 years and a Non-Exec Director of the company for 10 years before that. Ian is a Director of UKFT, Chair of The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and a Clothworker.”

Ali Gower SiG Sustainability in UK Textiles

Alistair Gower has over 25 years’ experience in both the Aerospace and Automotive sectors. Initially a manufacturing engineer at Toyota UK, he went on to lead new model introduction in their vehicle assembly division. Alistair joined Rolls-Royce to work with their external supply chain, successfully improving capability through practical application of the knowledge and skills developed at Toyota. Alistair has been with the Sharing in Growth programme since its creation in 2012, initially leading a holistic Business Transformation team of coaches, before progressing to take responsibility for the overall operational management of the business.

Tim Clark is Technical Director at John Smedley with extensive experience throughout the garment textile manufacture processing and also in sales of garment and yarn. His role encompasses QA, Raw material procurement, yarn manufacture, knitting, dyeing, make-up, garment & yarn sourcing, R&D, Health & Safety, Trimmings and labels, production methods in all areas. It also covers product testing (chemical and physical), machine and garment R&D and he boasts extensive knowledge of natural fibres including cotton, Merino, cashmere and silk.