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Johnstons of Elgin achieves B Corp status

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Johnstons of Elgin - B Corp

Scottish wool producer Johnstons of Elgin has achieved B Corp status. The family-owned firm said the recognition underscores the brand's commitment to driving positive social and environmental change. Since 1797, Johnstons of Elgin has been renowned for its expertise in fine natural fibers, blending quality and craftsmanship with a strong focus on community engagement. Their Elgin and Hawick mills, with the former being Scotland's sole vertical weaving mill, produce both cashmere and merino wool products.

Chris Gaffney, the Chief Executive of Johnstons of Elgin, expressed pride in the team's diligent efforts to meet the rigorous criteria necessary for B Corp certification, but said “there remains much work to do, but it is very fulfilling as a Chief Executive and a Board to be so clearly empowered by our family owners to make decisions that will continue us on a journey to becoming a fully sustainable company.”

To obtain B Corp status, a business must demonstrate transparency and prioritise environmental and social considerations. The company's impact must extend beyond shareholders to encompass all stakeholders, including suppliers and employees whose livelihoods depend on the organization. In line with this ethos, Johnstons of Elgin made a legal amendment to their founding documents, formally declaring their intention to generate a tangible positive impact on society and the environment, benefitting all members of the company.

Notably, out of the 1,703 B Corp companies in the UK, only 120 are family-owned, and globally, there are just 6,693 B Corp businesses. Furthermore, B Corp companies must recertify every three years, ensuring their continued adherence to the highest standards.

The announcement coincides with Johnstons of Elgin's 225th anniversary, marking a remarkable milestone in the brand's history.

Two centuries of heritage

The brand's Scottish mills transform raw cashmere and merino wool fibers into yarn and finished products, employing 1,200 individuals across their manufacturing sites. Their craftsmanship extends to their renowned tweed designs, which hold significant historical value and continue to feature in their contemporary collections. As one of the founding members of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), Johnstons of Elgin collaborates with Mongolian herders to promote sustainable grassland management and ensure the welfare of the animals that provide their fibers. Viewing their supply chains as an extended family, the brand actively works to safeguard the herders' livelihoods through their collaboration with the SFA.

The brand currently sources most of its cashmere from SFA-certified suppliers and aims to achieve 100 percent SFA-certified fiber sourcing by 2024. The company also said it purchases wool that adheres to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), a voluntary global standard that focuses on sheep welfare and land management practices.

B Corp
Johnstons of Elgin