Since 1741, Wilton Carpets has built a reputation for style and excellence through its unparalleled range of British-made carpets and rugs
England’s historic home of carpeting, Wilton Carpets (Wilton), has seen a major resurgence in recent months, as its resilient and time-honoured model bounces back from the effects of Covid-19. Wilton’s name has become synonymous with fine carpets and enduring quality over the last two centuries, and despite the difficulties of a pandemic, the company is now gearing up for one of its most exciting years yet in 2022.
For centuries, Wilton’s carpets have been 100 percent British-made, woven from locally sourced wool that is considered world-leading in both feel and durability. Based in the historic town of Wiltshire, the company is known for its dedication to traditional, quality manufacturing. Whilst these operations were interrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19, the effects on Wilton Carpets are showing themselves to be short-lived, as Rob Load, Manufacturing Director, reveals: “The pandemic affected the whole business, as effectively 95 percent of our customer base was closed down overnight with the first lockdown. The business had to shrink operations in line with sales, but this was only temporary, and within six months the factory was back to two-shift working.”
The company’s generational experience in the manufacturing industry no doubt bolstered it through these difficult times, as did the introduction of a new owner, and the announcement of a major investment. “The business was severely impacted by the pandemic, but has very successfully managed its way out of this crisis.
“Wilton Carpets has emerged leaner and stronger than ever before; we have been able to concentrate on our core offering, and this has put us in a very unique position within the UK woven carpet sector. The business is now owned by Mr. Chris Brammall, who has brought a renewed energy and dynamism to the company, so much so that an investment of £1.2 million has just been announced,” Rob details.
This investment comes at the perfect time, as the world opens back up again, Wilton Carpets is experiencing renewed growth, and the re-opening of many of its core customer bases. As Rob confirms: “Wilton supplies the leisure, hospitality and public sectors, which were all affected heavily by the pandemic, and subsequent national lockdowns. Demand has rebounded since, and has returned to almost pre-pandemic levels. People are determined to get back out into the world, and with that shift we are seeing the business return to its normal levels of activity.”
These victories are hard won for Wilton Carpets, as the company made significant operational changes during the lockdown periods in 2020 and 2021. “The loss of our customer base overnight and the huge uncertainty this created was the largest challenge this company will have faced. The difference between the challenges brought on by Covid-19, and the challenges we expect to face throughout the supply chain, is that the pandemic caught us all by surprise. No one necessarily knew what was coming, or how to handle the situation. It was about being responsive, and making decisions day by day.
“There is a newfound confidence in the market, which seems to be rebounding rapidly. Having been in manufacturing for over 40 years, it is interesting to see the cycle turning in favor of shorter product lead times. The demand has switched back to green credentials, and locally made products. The trajectory toward cheaper manufacturing outside of the UK has been dealt several major blows. All of these trends have definitely helped us recover from the initial pandemic period,” discusses Rob.
As a family-built company, Wilton Carpets is known for its tight-knit working community, and dedicated team of manufacturers, designers and suppliers. As Rob asserts: “The value of people, in any business, is often overlooked as an asset. Unfortunately, people are sometimes viewed as a necessary cost. The textiles industry has always worked a little bit differently; it is common to find several generations of families working in the factory, and this fosters a great working attitude between colleagues.
“The pandemic has been very difficult, and unfortunately we did have to scale back our workforce. This was a necessary move at the time, considering the company was making a fraction of its usual income. But the wheel has turned full circle now, and we are actively recruiting again across all areas and departments within the business.”
Similarly, Wilton’s supplier network provided invaluable support in the face of adversity. “Having reliable suppliers with whom you have strong working connections is absolutely vital. During the initial outbreak of Covid-19, our suppliers were faced with the same level of uncertainty as us, and a lot of the time it was those connections that kept all of us going,” confides Rob.
Today, Wilton Carpets is embracing an exciting new future, with investments in the latest high-speed loom technology, and an expanding workforce, it is clear that this company’s long legacy is far from over. As Rob concludes: “2022 is going to be a year of change for Wilton Carpets; we will spend the next 12 months renewing the company, and building it back up. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we can now plan with more confidence in the future.
“Wilton weaving was developed on this same site almost 300 years ago. That incredible history of woven manufacturing continues to this day, thanks to our dedicated team, and one of the industry’s oldest and most recognizable brand names.”
Services: Carpet and textiles manufacturer