Dynamic firm enjoys sales boost and global reputation

Global links: Staff at James H Heal, of Boothtown, Halifax
Global links: Staff at James H Heal, of Boothtown, Halifax

James Heal is a family-owned and run testing instrument manufacturer and can trace its roots back to 1872.

When the current managing director, David Repper, took over from his father in 1982, he began to focus business activity on Textile Testing, which has enabled the company to grow and evolve into present-day market leaders.

The company is a specialist in the field of fabric and colour fastness testing, and supply instruments and testing materials to textile and garment manufacturers around the globe, many of which supply well known retailers including Next, BHS, Marks & Spencer, Victoria’s Secret, Adidas and Louis Vuitton.

Heal’s comprises of the three operating divisions: Testing Instruments, HEALINK™ After-Sales Service, and Quality Assured Consumables™.

Its ethos is based on the pursuit of excellence and ultimate quality in instrument design through continuous technological innovation.

Operating from a three-storey mill in Halifax which dates back to 1860, all instruments are designed and manufactured entirely from these facilities.

The company has invested heavily in new product development and CNC machinery in recent years, and decided to go “Lean” in 2009.

Although, still working on the “Lean” journey, the firm has already managed to reduce stock holding by nearly 20 per cent and is implementing a system of cyclic stock counting to reduce errors in stock numbers. They are also making early progress on Lean Office, 5S in the factory and SMED.

Customers of James Heal are fully supported by the global after sales, maintenance and calibration services from HEALINK™ and HEALINK ASIA™ covering: installation, training, applications and engineering support, maintenance and calibration.

In 2003, the company built a dedicated consumables production centre within its UK factory - a modern and well equipped “mini textile mill” with facilities for producing reference fabrics and standard materials for the textile industry, including: Weaving, inspection, packaging, labelling, cutting and sewing.

With approximately 90 per cent of the £8 million turnover coming from the export market, products and services are channelled through a network of strategically-positioned and carefully-selected local agents and distributors across the world.

They supply to textile and garment manufacturers and independent testing laboratories such as SGS, with the main centres of textile production based in developing countries such as China, India and Turkey.

Despite the ongoing unstable economic climate, 2010 was a remarkable year for the company which won two regional awards for manufacturing excellence and its sales levels soared by 20 per cent.

Moreover, its workforce increased by almost 30 per cent with employment currently at over 90 people on-site - and still growing.

James Heal is a proud ambassador for Calderdale and an excellent example of the strength in UK manufacturing.

It is dynamic and evolving; with a passion for innovation and an appetite for continuous improvement, it is on the cusp of exciting developments and growth, currently undergoing a strategic rebrand which will be launched later this year, in addition to making improvements to their manufacturing facilities and offices.