Our UK Factory grows

By Hati Whiteley

We step out the front door and head up the steps. It doesn't seem like very long since we packed our sewing machines and patterns into boxes and moved our factory all the way to the other end of AKHQ.

It doesn't feel like very long because it was only two years ago, but now that domain has been passed onto John and his warehouse team who have been itching for more space too! In fact this is the third move since we started making outdoor equipment at Alpkit HQ


Moving out of the old factory (well the 3rd 'old factory')

We've been on quite a journey in those last two years. Working hard (as always!) to spread the word of Go Nice Places, Do Good Things, we've managed to expand our range, design and make even more gear to send out to our customers and all the while maintain our unwavering commitment to quality stuff.

Our UK-Made range was also becoming increasingly sought after and we started to think about recruiting new staff, getting some more machines and developing new products. All of a sudden, that huge new factory space that we never thought we'd fill had started to look a little small. However, finding a new home for our factory would be tricky.

Ever since Alpkit began here in Nottingham, we always knew we wanted to start producing kit close to home.

UK manufacturing in the outdoor industry saw a gradual decline throughout the latter half of the 20th century, with a huge number of factories closing their doors for good in the late nineties. This was not only a huge loss for UK manufacturing, but for the hundreds of highly skilled individuals who lost their jobs and were forced to abandon the industry.

Textiles put our local area on the map, so if we were going to produce outdoor gear, we wanted that outdoor gear to support our local area, continuing the tradition of making technical outdoor equipment on the edge of the Peak District like Rab Carrington and Pete O'Donovan. We wanted to create opportunities for experienced machinists to return to the textile industry as well as for enthusiastic and motivated individuals to develop new skills. This has created a real gem of a workforce, talented machinists passing on their knowledge of making things and mixing with passionate outdoor folk sharing their knowledge of using things.

Okay, so we may not be the biggest baddest factory in the world… But we figured that by making our bike luggage, bouldering pads and climbing packs here on the outskirts of Nottingham, we'd be contributing to the revival of UK manufacturing and the local textile industry in our own small way.

We also loved the idea of our UK factory being at Alpkit HQ, mainly because they always have the best biscuits and are pretty handy at the lunchtime crossword, but also because it allows us all to work together to ensure that our customers are getting great quality gear.

You'd think that a large empty building just a stone's throw from our Global HQ would be hard to come by. Usually it probably would be, but luck had it that someone built one next door and they were happy for us to take it on. The plan was set in motion, all we had to do was wait.

'I'm excited to be at the heart of something really unique in the outdoor industry. For me it's not just about producing high quality products, but also about helping team members to develop their skills… Looking at shiny new machinery for our new factory is a bit of a bonus too!' (Factory Manager Ben)

Now happily settled in our new space next door, we have set about recruiting new team members, buying new machines, and developing some new and exciting products for 2018.