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In a first for the sector, the organically certified range brings together easy care and traceable natural products in a selection of duvets, pillows and mattress protectors for both adults and infants.
Chris Tattersall, managing director and owner of Rutland-based Woolroom for the past decade, explains: “For wool to be machine washable generally it has to go through an aqueous chlorine solution so the fibres are smooth and do not shrink when agitated.
“In our new process, that blends oxygen, minerals and water, the fibres bend so when agitated they bounce off each other and are springier.
“Customers get a better night’s sleep with our chemical-free products. They naturally help manage body temperature. Restless sleep from people feeling too hot is a growing problem, and our products don’t irritate or cause allergies.”
The latest organic collection joins Woolroom’s other classic and deluxe ranges which use wool sourced from 200 British farms.
The annual shearing season gets underway shortly and the UK’s unique system of sorting and grading wool has also been of huge help to the company and its goal of creating a new strong market for British wool by enabling it to select the right grade.
Tattersall explains: “Bedding needs a shorter, more consistent staple length and slightly lower micron than mattresses which need a good crimp or spring in the fibre so it’s more resilient with use.”
Product design is in house with production through a network of UK and European suppliers.
“Wool is an amazing performer, it’s biodegradable and non-flammable. Our mission has been to break the stigma surrounding it as an itchy, scratchy fibre only suitable for winter,” says Tattersall.
“It has been woefully undervalued, we pay above market prices to farmers who previously got less than it cost them to shear their sheep.”
Woolroom’s traceable Wool ID programme for its bedding and UK-made mattress products has also reinforced the company’s sourcing credibility. Last year it scooped a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Customers can track origins back to the farms via product QR codes linking to every bale, then the sorting, grading, cleaning and manufacturing stages.
“They can rest easy knowing their bedding is good for them, sheep welfare and the planet,” adds Tattersall.
The business saw sales increase during the pandemic as customers turned to home comforts.
“Our decision to concentrate on sleep products is one of the best we have made,” observes Tattersall who now is focused on maintaining the sales momentum as post-Covid life returns outside the home.
Bringing on board customers who have always chosen feather and down fillings in the past is one way. This year Woolroom is targeting a £11 million turnover and 30 percent growth as Tattersall’s multi-channel strategy pays off and online sales in North America and Iceland power ahead.
Trade with the island developed after locals got in touch with their health experiences.
“Some Iceland residents said they were suffering with chemical sensitivities from memory foam and synthetic mattresses,” says Tattersall.
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“In very cold climates where ventilation is more controlled, chemicals can have an even bigger impact. Our partnerships with Allergy UK, and Leeds and Bangor universities have reinforced customer confidence about our products.
“North America is now over 25 percent of our business and we have a fully fledged subsidiary there. We identified the region as we diversified after Brexit. Santander has backed us with export and foreign exchange advice and finding key overseas partners.
“Demand in California is especially strong because of our products’ heat regulation capabilities and as a natural solution as allergy problems increase and customers lack regenerative sleep.”
Woolroom, which has 25 staff, also plans to open two more stores this year in south east England. “Physical retail helps us explain our products,” says Tattersall, “and keeps our customers close.”
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