Old meets new at Somerset textiles factory

Posted on 6 Jun 2014 by The Manufacturer

A Somerset factory using centuries-old technology to create its tulle product has embraced renewable energy as it looks to the future.

Manufacturer Swisstulle will see a biomass boiler making products using 200-year-old methods at its Chard factory after NatWest provided funding for building works and other associated costs for its installation.

The plant which employs 66 people is the world’s largest producer of bobbinet, netting made on machines which use bobbins, a method developed in the 19th century.

Swisstulle financial manager Zubaida Choudhury-Lucas, whose company supplies the fashion industry and the wig-making business, said: “Initially the fashion industry was the biggest customer – the net went into lace collars of gentlemen’s outfits. Bobbinet can be very easily embroidered because of the uniformity of the hole size.”

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Swisstulle, which saw RBS’ dedicated asset finance arm Lombard finance its boiler purchase, has already installed its own sewage system and solar panels.

And Choudhury-Lucas is hopeful that modern technology will help Swisstulle overcome the problems caused by the ageing building.

“The factory is very old and inefficient. Apart from the cost, we are never warm. The biomass boiler will provide heating for the factory and hot water.

“Not only are we going to be energy efficient and saving costs but we are going to be warm too.”

NatWest relationship manager Rob Warnock-Smith, who worked with the company to secure the biomass boiler funding, added: “Increasing energy costs are a key challenge for our local manufacturers and it is fantastic to be able to support Swisstulle reduce their annual energy spend whilst enhancing their green credentials as a business.

“The energy savings realised through this project far outweigh the costs of funding it, with the added benefit that Swisstulle will receive income via the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which pays participants that generate and use renewable energy to heat their buildings.”