Melin Tregwynt: The Revival of Welsh Wool Production and Sustainability

Recently there has been a change in customer buying patterns with many also wanting to buy sustainable and local products” (Eifion Griffiths).

While many businesses claim that sustainability does not fit with the business case and consumers do not demand it, evidence suggests otherwise. In Wales, the growing demand for sustainably produced products has led to the revival of a centuries-old method of production. This revival demonstrates that sustainability can be a profitable and attractive business option and can also help to revitalize local communities.

Wales has a rich history of wool production dating back several centuries. Initially, the industry operated as a cottage industry, but by the mid-19th century, there were 300 water-powered woollen mills in the country, serving a population of roughly 1.1 million people (i.e. 1 mill for every 3,800 people). The nation was renowned for its wool production rather than coal. However, the industry faced stiff competition and cheaper products, leading to its decline. By 1926, there were only 250 mills, with only 81 remaining in 1947, 24 in 1974, and merely 9 by 2013, of which only 5 were functioning on an industrial scale, despite the country having approximately 10 million sheep.

The growing interest in sustainability has resulted in a surge in demand for Welsh wool products, revealing a pressing need for increased production capacity. One mill that has responded to this demand is Melin Tregwynt, situated in Castlemorris near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire. Established in the 18th century, the mill was acquired by Henry Griffiths for £760 in 1912 and has remained as a family-run business ever since. However, in 2022, its most recent proprietors, Eifion and Amanda Griffiths, decided to transfer ownership of the mill to its 42 employees. Eifion and Amanda had inherited the business in 1987 and grown it considerably. The decision to transfer ownership to employees was motivated by their desire to keep the mill a viable enterprise and a valued member of the local community. It was also important to them to ensure that the workforce retained their jobs and the knowledge and skills they had accumulated over the years. As Amanda explains, they were fortunate to have always employed local people, and they wanted to preserve Welsh culture and heritage by transforming the mill into an employee-owned company.

Furthermore, with Wales boasting 10 million sheep, Melin Tregwynt aims to use more local Welsh wool in their products. Currently, the mill has to purchase all wool centrally, with only 20 percent being British. They intend to increase this percentage and source their wool locally. To this end, they helped to establish The Cambrian Mountains Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2016, under the auspices of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2008. The CIC’s primary goal is to facilitate the purchase and processing of wool produced locally on farms in the Cambrian Mountains. This initiative will enable Melin Tregwynt to combine locally sourced yarn with beautiful designs to create a premium Welsh product for their customers.

In addition to its mill shop opened in 1956, Melin Tregwynt offers a catalogue mail order service and the option to buy online through its website. With over half of their business now conducted online, the mill has customers from all over the world, including a significant market in Japan. Their experience in Japan taught them the importance of the “story” behind a product, including its history and provenance.

Melin Tregwynt has also been successful in promoting its brand through various channels. They have been featured in several television programmes and, in 2008, they were commissioned by Waitrose, a grocery retailer, to create a gigantic picnic blanket for a television advert. This blanket, which was the size of two tennis courts, was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest picnic blanket in the world. After the advert, it was donated to the Waitrose Foundation to improve the lives of the South African farm workers who grow and harvest the fruit sold by the supermarket.

Through its concern for sustainability, Melin Tregwynt is not only creating wealth and jobs but helping preserve the environment and the culture and heritage not just of its local community but of Wales. It is very much a harmonious enterprise in which profit, the planet, and people are in harmony. With respect to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it addresses SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 ((Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 15 (Life on Land) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

© / Harmonious Entrepreneurship Ltd. (2020-2023). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author(s) noted is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harmonious Entrepreneurship Ltd with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

1 comment

  1. Great Welsh case study and clearly illustrates how a traditional business can be re-invigorated and given a new lease of life and sustainability through employee ownership. Their involvement with the Cambrian Mountains Initiative/CIC and vision of procuring more than 20% of their natural wool from local Welsh producers is encouraging. Good luck to the team at Melin Tregwynt and continued success.


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