How we’re helping Kingswood to reduce its environmental footprint
25 Jan 2024
25 Jan 2024
Mobility specialist Kingswood has put Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) at the heart of its strategy. Here, Managing Director Jeremy Rolph tells us how, with LDC’s support, the company is reducing its impact on the environment.
About the business
Kingswood is a branded manufacturer of mobility products operating in the UK healthcare sector, with more than 180 employees. It specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of bespoke products, including beds, chairs and bathrooms, directly to consumers. This helps those with mobility difficulties to stay safe and independent in their own homes.
Since LDC’s investment in October 2021, Jeremy has been able to accelerate the integration of ESG into Kingswood’s business model.
With the help of LDC’s ESG assessment – which all portfolio companies benefit from – Kingswood has identified smart ways of reducing its environmental impact without losing commercial and strategic focus. This action is now set to reduce Kingswood’s carbon footprint by 25% within the next two years.
A more efficient site
Working closely together, LDC and Kingswood’s management team identified a key efficiency initiative – moving production to a new manufacturing site in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands. Kingswood had outgrown its previous site – spread over several premises – providing an opportunity to build a more efficient, greener central space.
Its new 50,000 sq ft Brierley Hill site was identified by LDC. We helped Jeremy and his team with the design of the new factory floor to optimise efficiency and ensure these plans were effectively implemented. The new site includes solar panels on the roof, providing clean energy to the business and helping it to further reduce its carbon footprint.
Jeremy says: “It means we can lay out processes far more logically, supporting better workflow, and cutting carbon emissions, because products aren’t having to be shifted from one unit to another. At the same time, we can consolidate our manufacturing and warehousing on one site.
“At our old site in Droitwich we had a logistics vehicle going back and forth between sites four times a day. Now manufacturing and distribution are all in one place, making it far more efficient.”
Following an introduction by LDC, Kingswood will soon be rolling out Lightfoot – a real-time in-cab driver coaching technology which incentivises safer and more efficient driving practices. Lightfoot will help Kingswood reduce fleet costs, improve driver risk and reduce carbon and other harmful emissions.
Meanwhile, thanks in part to the move to Brierley Hill, Kingswood expects to reduce the distance driven by its fleet by over 100,000 miles annually, reducing vehicle emissions by 48 tonnes of CO2e. These actions will also cut Kingswood’s average vehicle fuel bill of £25,000 per month by 10%.
And, working closely with Jeremy and his team, LDC also introduced Kingswood to fellow LDC portfolio company Sedex, the world’s largest data platform for supply chain assessment, which is helping the business benchmark the impact of its operations, manage its supply chain risks, and ultimately build an ethical supply chain.
Reuse and recycle, less carbon
Every day, Kingswood’s fleet of 12 large vehicles deliver new furniture to customers’ houses across the country, most of whom also call on Kingswood to take their old furniture away too.
Jeremy says: “We assessed the furniture we were taking, and we found that a lot of it was serviceable and still had plenty of life left in it. So we engaged with a charity called the Reuse Network, which operates nationwide to help people who are struggling to furnish their homes.
“Now, any item we remove from a customer’s house that is suitable for reuse is bagged and kept securely on our site. Reuse come in twice a week to pick it up and distribute it on across their network.”
In just one month, the items Kingswood donated went to help over 60 households in desperate need of furniture, saving these households over £6,000. The emissions saving as a result of avoiding sending the furniture to landfill was over 2,500kg of CO2e.
Over the course of next year, the initiative is expected to save 25 tonnes of waste from landfill, helping over 800 families in the process.
Jeremy says: “It’s a huge win for us. Now that our customers know what we are doing with their old furniture, we have reduced the number of products we take away so have less to dispose of. We’re helping communities and the environment, and we’re saving money because we aren’t having to pay to transport and dispose of old furniture in landfill.”
Like with furniture, Kingswood offers to take away a customer’s old bed for free when they buy a new one. But unlike chairs and sofas, there is little demand for used mattresses. And Kingswood found that the idea of recycling mattresses was in its infancy, with the vast majority still ending up in landfill.
Jeremy says: “I used to watch lorries leaving the site stuffed full of mattresses that would be sent to landfill. It was heart-breaking and we became passionate about finding a solution to this problem.
“We eventually identified a company called Textek, which is able to break the mattress down into its component parts, with the metal making its way into items ranging from kettles to planes, the foam being reused in animal bedding and the textile used in power generation.
We can now say that 100% of the mattresses we take from customers are recycled.”
The solution is expected to save 47 tonnes from being sent to landfill every year.
The partnership works
Jeremy is clear that LDC’s support has been crucial to Kingswood’s progress in reducing its environmental impact. “LDC have been brilliant every step of the way,” he says.
Jeremy Rolph, Managing Director