Harrison Spinks pioneers hemp cultivation to craft luxury mattresses 

An innovator in the industry, Harrison Spinks is not just an ordinary mattress and bed manufacturer, but a real success story in luxury, vertical manufacturing. The company’s operations encompass responsible mattress and bed production, as well as spring and wire component manufacturing. As the biggest industrial hemp grower in the UK, Harrison Spinks is an expert farmer, wire drawer, spring maker, weaver and nonwoven manufacturer, which also designs and builds its own unique pocket coiling equipment. With a long-standing presence in the market, Harrison Spinks sits at the luxury end of the market. This strategic positioning aligns with its commitment to delivering exceptional quality. Harrison Spinks now globally exports to the US, Europe, China, and Australia.

“We do everything in our power to preserve our environment for future generations,” begins Richard Essery, Managing Director of Technology. Since Simon Spinks founded the business in 1840, it has placed a strong emphasis on responsible manufacturing. More recently, there has been a significantly increased emphasis on responsible sourcing, particularly concerning the fillings and materials required to make beds and mattresses.

Chris Townsley, Beds Operations Director, uncovers the company’s history and milestones. “In 1995, we introduced the Revolution Pocket Spring – a pocket spring within a pocket spring, marking a significant milestone in our history of innovation. Eight years later, we invented and patented the first generation of micro coil pocket springs, a great achievement in the components business. Additionally, in 2009, we acquired a farm located just 18 miles away from our factory, where we rear our own sheep and cultivate hemp and flax crops. These natural materials are then processed on-site and transformed into natural fillings pads. In 2014, we introduced wire drawing technology, enabling us to produce our own fine wire and further develop our micro coil spring equipment, setting us apart from other manufacturers and showcasing our commitment to innovation. Furthermore, in 2015, we introduced weaving equipment to our facility in Leeds, allowing us to produce mattress fabric in-house. Our fabric is FR chemical-free, eradicating the need for fire retardancy chemical treatments and ensuring the safety and quality of our fabric. Our latest notable milestone occurred in January 2021, when we eliminated the need for glue in our pocket spring units, further enhancing the ingenuity of our products,” he informs.

Chris delves into one of the company’s most ground-breaking achievements: the creation of a mattress that seamlessly blends luxury with sustainability. “Even before sustainability became a widespread concern, we were actively exploring ways to create products that were not only comfortable and luxurious but also environmentally friendly. So, in terms of recyclability, we aim to make our products 100 percent recyclable. We have made significant strides in this direction with our glue-less pocket units and the use of natural fillings. It’s not only sustainability that has driven the change in our business; rather, it is a natural progression of our longstanding commitment to environmental consciousness. It’s encouraging to see that others also seem to be on board with us,” he enlightens.

“As we revolutionized our farming practices, we incorporated natural, biodegradable fillings into our mattresses. We are currently working on a way to reprocess these fillings at the end of their life cycle. The mattress ticking itself is natural and biodegradable, and we are actively developing a process to clean and recycle internal and post-consumer waste to create new fillings. Every component of our mattress, including the springs, have been developed with recyclability has in mind. Our glue-less technology at the core of the mattress was specifically designed to facilitate recycling. By eliminating glue, we mitigate contamination concerns and make disassembling the products at the end of their life cycle much easier. Indeed, when we examine the components of the mattress, we find that most of them can be recycled, so the difficulty really comes down to the disassembly process,” adds Richard.

Responsible sleep
Richard discusses the company’s status as the largest hemp grower in the UK, shedding light on what this achievement entails. “The decision to start growing hemp and flax for our mattresses was driven by our desire to create a natural product. This initiative began around 2009, with the aim of utilizing home-grown natural fillings in the comfort layers of our mattresses. Thus, we acquired some land to create sufficient space for cultivation. The farming aspect, in terms of growing the crops, was not overly challenging. However, as our operations expanded, we needed to acquire more land and collaborate with other farmers to meet the demand. Another significant hurdle was understanding how to process the hemp straw and what equipment was required. This proved to be a steep learning curve given the fact that hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world. In the early days, we improvised with old equipment and performed many tasks manually, aiming to create a fiber that not only offered luxurious comfort but was also fully compostable. While we now have automated processes in place, it remains a complex task. The production equipment consists of various pieces of repurposed machinery that we have found to be suitable for processing hemp and meeting market demands,” he ends.

Embodying its environmental consciousness, Harrison Spinks leads the way in innovation, pioneering eco-friendly products and championing its commitment to luxury, responsible sleep.