Customer service that goes the extra mile is as important to John Smedley as making the best quality jumpers in the world. So says Ian Maclean, managing director and eighth generation member of the founding family, recalling the time he took a call from an Englishman based in New York. The client, who was running a sizable luxury goods business himself, was dismayed that he couldn’t purchase a limited-edition jumper from the John Smedley British website because it had sold out. Maclean quickly grabbed one from a London store and personally shipped it to him in the US: ‘It all ended well, and we remain in contact to this day.’
No surprise then that the Royal Warrant-holding John Smedley business has survived for over 235 years. From its home in Lea Mills, Derbyshire, the oldest functioning factory in the world, it is proud of its claim to create ‘the world’s finest knitwear’ and its heritage of employing expert home-grown knitters, linkers, dyers and seamstresses. Its history is peppered with highlights, such as crafting long Johns in vicuña for the Emperor of Japan, working closely with Florence Nightingale who signed the original company deeds, knitting pint-sized gifts for Princes Charles when he was a child and dressing screen stars from Marilyn Monroe to Eddie Redmayne.
John Smedley’s history is peppered with highlights, such as crafting long johns in vicuna for the Emperor of Japan and working closely with Florence Nightingale