Despite the backdrop of global recession and a perceived decline in British manufacturing, the past five years have seen the Coakley & Cox factory grow in size, staff and machinery.
There have been two major changes in particular; we brought all of the frame-making in-house and have moved into a new larger premises opposite where our old factory sits.
Around four times as big as the previous site, the new factory is one long building that is split into three light-filled and spacious units. Each one is dedicated to managing one part of the upholstery making process, so products move seamlessly through the space, from one stage to the next. Those stages are frame-making, pattern-cutting and upholstery.
Up until 2011, all of the frames for upholstery pieces were made around a mile away at a specialist frame-makers and then delivered on site. Now, with a wood workshop on site manned by our traditionally-skilled staff members, the process of prototyping new products is far easier and quality control is much improved.
Upstairs on the mezzanine floor of the main building our seamstresses work with good old fashioned sheers or scissors, large card stencils and a small orbital fabric cutter. The cut fabrics are machined together using our overlocker, twin needle machines (two different widths of stitch) and our single stitch sewing machines.
In the upholstery making space, a new flexible layout has been created with moveable workstations and plenty of thoroughfare space to bring the larger furniture pieces in and out. This makes the work run smoother and leaves the staff more satisfied. For this stage of the work, which is all done by hand, the only industrial bit of kit required is a large compressor to power the staple and nail guns.
An important new piece of machinery is the hand operated “Coverfill Case Filler” that fills cushion covers and pouffes with polyester fibre. The production time on SCP’s Donna Wilson Pouffes has been cut by around two-thirds since the machine was introduced.
Each of these small but steady steps towards expansion are part of our long-term strategy; a strategy that’s underpinned by strong retail sales and a firm belief that there is a place for high quality, British-made products on the international stage.