Chapter 5

The Future of Johnstons of Elgin

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What does the future hold for Johnstons of Elgin? Our Scottish roots, global outlook and commitment to quality craftsmanship have brought us this far, and as we celebrate our milestone birthday, we ask, what future awaits us?

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After 225 years, we remain family-owned, and the ethos of family spills into every aspect of our business. Johnstons of Elgin's Chairman Jenny Urquhart represents the fourth generation of the Harrison family at the company's helm. The family consider themselves custodians of the company, striving to uphold and build on the values and wishes of those who went before them.

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Generations of workers have built their careers at Johnstons of Elgin, sometimes with three generations of the same family employed at the same time.

Chairman Jenny Urquhart said, ‘It's a joy to work here and to know that all these other families are working in the business too. There’s a job here for almost everyone, something to take everybody's interest from weaving to warehousing to web analytics to waitressing.'

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Function and longevity have always been as important to us as the beauty of the products we create. Jenny describes this as 'an inherent ethos of sustainability'.

'I have a picture of my great aunt as a child with her parents sitting on a Johnstons blanket. In other pictures, I love seeing that same blanket, darned and patched ten years later. A blanket is part of the fabric of a home; in fact, among the first products we made were wool blankets for the local hospital in Elgin,' she said.

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Jenny’s grandfather, former Chairman Eddie Harrison, patched holes in his Cashmere sweaters when they began to show signs of wear. Today, our partnership with luxury repair company Cashmere Circle allows our customers to enjoy our beautifully crafted designs for longer.

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We make what we sell. We continue to work with natural, biodegradable fibres and make conscious choices about any new materials we use. This year, we launched our recycled, recyclable gift boxes and packaging, and we continue to look for ways to reduce our footprint. Most of our excess yarn is used in our Limited Edition EveryYarn range.

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While our roots remain in Scotland, our metaphorical branches span the globe. We have been instrumental in securing the future of the Cashmere industry through our role within the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA).

This year, the SFA increased online learning, allowing more people to participate and reaching those in remote areas. We are proud sponsors of their Sustainability Awards, offering financial incentives to Mongolian farmers and cooperatives for environmentally conscious practices and leadership.

We hope you’ll join us as we continue our journey and look forward to the next 225 years.