The Fine Bedding Company Interview

The Fine Bedding Company Interview With Claire Watkin (2024)

Last updated: 08.03.2024 Reading time: 11 Min.

The Fine Bedding Company is a British institution that certainly needs no introduction.

This family company dates back to 1912 and has supplied families in Britain with premium bedding products for decades. 🇬🇧

We sat down with Managing Director Claire Watkin to learn more about this company.

Get all the info in our interview below.

the fine bedding company interview claire waktin

Introducing The Fine Bedding Company

To start with, let's find out a little more about the history of The Fine Bedding Company.

Could you share the history of The Fine Bedding Company's founding and what inspired its focus on sleep products?

"My great-grandfather set up the business back in 1912, initially producing mattresses and pillows for the ship liners journeying from Liverpool to America. Then, in the 1970s, inspired by a vision of potential, my father transformed our direction, leading to the birth of Trendsetter.

Today, we're known as The Fine Bedding Company, a name we adopted in 1999 to highlight our core heritage brand.

Our innovative spirit continued with the introduction of Night Lark in 2017, marking the UK's debut of the coverless duvet.

In the early days, we were at the forefront of introducing revolutionary products, like the four-seasons duvet. Our journey of innovation hasn't paused. We've advanced in producing premium bedding that's environmentally friendly.

the fine bedding company
The Fine Bedding Company is one of the UK's best-known bedding retailers.

This includes the creation of SmartFil®, our exclusive, silky-soft fibre filling. Compared to standard hollow-fibre-filled bedding, SmartFil® is not only far more durable, long-lasting, and compressible for easy home washing, but it also offers superior thermal efficiency, requiring less material to achieve the warmth of traditional fibres.

We are committed to ensuring our pillows and duvets embody everything needed for a truly restful night's sleep - a luxury many desire yet sometimes find elusive."

What accomplishments are you most proud of as a company?

"Achieving B Corp™️ certification [1] in the summer of 2022 is one of our most significant milestones.

Since I first encountered B Corp™️ in 2016, its philosophy has deeply resonated with me. It aligns perfectly with our business ethos - the belief in making a substantial, positive impact that extends beyond financial gain, benefiting society and the environment at large.

Attaining this certification was no small feat, which is precisely the point. The B Impact Assessment involves answering over 200 questions and undergoing a thorough verification process to confirm that our company upholds stringent social and environmental performance standards, accountability, and transparency.

Our team's dedication and hard work were crucial in navigating every aspect of this rigorous process. Their commitment is the foundation of our achievement.

This accomplishment is truly a testament to our team's efforts. While we may be a business with four generations of history, we are firmly focused on creating a legacy that will benefit many generations to come."

The Fine Bedding Company and its products

Now that we've looked at The Fine Bedding Company's legacy, let's consider some of its top-notch products and how the product development process works.

Which product would you consider your flagship or star product, and why?

"Our Night Lark coverless duvet collection has emerged as our standout product in recent years.

It has attracted a dedicated base of enthusiasts who appreciate its convenience – say goodbye to the hassle of changing the duvet covers on laundry day! This product appeals to a wide age range, from 9 to 90 years old.

night lark coverless duvet
The Fine Bedding Company's coverless duvet is a best-seller - and super convenient, too.

Moreover, it's exceptionally soft, lightweight, easy to wash at home, and dries quickly.

We've also recently invested in a printing machine at our eco-friendly factory in Estonia, which allows us to offer a wide variety of stunning new designs for every season."

How do you ensure the quality, safety, and durability of your sleep products?

"By manufacturing in our own facility, we maintain strict oversight over our product quality testing. Additionally, we collaborate with a group of technical experts who participate throughout the entire product development cycle.

Our products undergo testing to comply with British standards and meet the OEKO-TEX 100 [2] criteria.

Part of our commitment to sustainability is to start offering warranties on our products' longevity, given the lengths we go to ensure they are built to endure.

We consistently test new product developments, conducting trials both in-house and with external parties. Our quality assurance teams, located in the UK, Estonia, and Shanghai, conduct thorough inspections on both components and the final products."

Do you have any upcoming products that you're excited to launch?

"We're developing new products in our range of specialist pillows, responding to the increasing interest of consumers who want to improve their sleep environments.

Our efforts are geared towards producing pillows that perform well, utilising quality materials such as naturally sourced latex while ensuring our sourcing methods minimise environmental impact.

As a supplier and expert in materials, we continue to explore innovations that prompt material developers towards improved practices, aiming to introduce these improvements into the market."

How do you come up with new products? What are the most essential steps in the development process?

"Our customers are our primary source of insight – we consistently review their feedback and strive to understand their needs and the sleep challenges they aim to address.

Extensive user testing is crucial, as truly understanding a new product requires spending several nights sleeping with our pillows, duvets, and mattress toppers.

Our strong, enduring, and sometimes exclusive partnerships with material developers and suppliers keep us at the forefront of advancements in fabrics and fibres.

We conduct impact assessments at the initial stages of product development, ensuring our decisions align with our sustainability goals and are designed to last into the future.

As a dedicated team of sleep innovation enthusiasts, we keep abreast of the latest health and design trends in the industry, attending international trade shows in New York, Germany, and London to continually inspire our next innovative idea."

How often do you update or refresh your product lineup?

"As an innovative company, introducing new products is central to our operations, encompassing market novelties or enhancements to existing top-sellers.

Our product launches coincide with the seasonal cycles of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, adapting to consumers' evolving sleep needs.

We take pride in our capacity to quickly embrace new technologies, boasting the flexibility and specialist knowledge to expedite product development whenever breakthroughs arise."

What sets your sleep products apart from others in the market?

"Our commitment to outstanding quality is well-recognised (take a look at our Trustpilot reviews for proof!), resulting in products renowned for their durability.

It's common for us to hear from customers who have enjoyed our duvets for more than 10 years!"

Are there any personal stories or experiences from the team that have influenced the creation or design of any of your products?

"Aware of the detrimental impact allergies can have on achieving restful sleep, we've observed a growing demand for effective allergy mitigation solutions.

In 2023, we introduced our Allergy Defense bedding range, recognising the scarcity of genuinely effective anti-allergy options in the market.

Many products claim anti-allergy benefits merely because they are washable. Our goal was to elevate the standard without resorting to harsh chemicals.

We are proud to have launched the UK's most sophisticated natural anti-allergy bedding solutions that also provide a superior sleep experience.

This plant-based technology is a first in the UK market and addresses the four most common allergens - dogs, cats, pollen, and dust mites."

Community and sustainability

Sustainability and community are important topics in today's world, so we wanted to find out how The Fine Bedding Company approaches them.

How do you prioritise sustainability or eco-friendly practices in your production process?

"Owning our eco-friendly factory enables us to expand in an environmentally responsible manner.

By operating entirely on renewable energy and adhering to a zero-waste policy, we significantly reduce our planetary impact.

As a conscientious manufacturer, we're dedicated to continuously exploring ways to decrease the ecological footprint of our operations, products, and services.

fine bedding company eco-friendly factory
Products are made in the company's eco-factory in Estonia.

Our manufacturing activities are rigorously monitored through external audits and assessments, ensuring compliance with some of the industry's toughest sustainability standards. We undergo evaluations by Sedex for the SMETA 4-pillar ethical trade audit [3] and the Higg Factory Evaluation Model [4], and are ISO certified in 9001 (management system), 14001 (environmental management system), and 45001 (health and safety) standards.

Ingrained in our company's ethos is the commitment to making environmentally sound decisions, which guides every aspect of our business strategy and decision-making process."

Do you measure CO2 emissions linked to your operations, and what initiatives are in place to mitigate environmental impact?

"Indeed, we've conducted assessments of our Estonia-based factory's CO2 emissions for Scope 1, 2, and 3 in 2018 and 2022. During this period, we managed to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 11%. This analysis helped pinpoint the major contributors to our carbon footprint, which now informs our sustainability strategy.

In September of 2022, we implemented air source heat pumps, which have provided consistent heating throughout the winter, effectively handling temperatures as low as -25°C. These pumps harness energy from the outdoor air and transfer it indoors. While they do require some electricity, they predominantly utilise a renewable resource.

This system also offers cooling benefits during the summer, when temperatures can soar above 30°C, allowing us to maintain a comfortable factory environment without needing energy-intensive air conditioning units that only offer localised cooling.

Aside from enhancing the workplace environment, introducing these pumps has led to a significant reduction in energy use - a crucial factor, especially considering the quadrupling of energy prices. Moreover, this change has substantially decreased our carbon footprint.

These results encourage us to update the heating system in our UK office to a similar, more sustainable model."

Can you share with us any philanthropic efforts or community initiatives in which The Fine Bedding Company is involved?

"In 2023, we celebrated a decade of partnership with The Outward Bound Trust [5], having supported nearly 600 children in engaging with experiential outdoor activities.

The natural environment is ideal for encouraging young people to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new experiences.

The programmes are designed to motivate and instil confidence, foster intricate team-building skills, and cultivate a strong sense of self-belief."

How do you educate your customers about your products' sustainable features and how they can contribute to a greener environment?

"We ensure that all necessary certifications, including GRS and BCI, are accessible on our packaging, product pages, and within the "About Us" section of our website.

Additionally, we have recently released our inaugural Impact Report for 2022.

This marks a significant milestone for us, as it allows us to showcase our journey and the extensive efforts we've made to reduce our business's environmental impact and to serve as a positive influence in the bedding industry."

Do you avoid any specific materials or processes due to environmental or ethical concerns?

"Our approach to sourcing involves utilising a preferred materials list, which our sourcing and new product development teams have compiled based on an evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with these raw materials.

We go above and beyond standard practices in vetting our suppliers to ensure control and transparency throughout our supply chain.

We adhere to strict standards, ensuring all our products comply with OEKO-TEX 100 restrictions and are REACH [6] compliant.

Our polyester is certified by the Global Recycling Standard [7] (GRS), signifying our shift away from virgin polyester to recycled materials.

Our future focus is to develop lower-impact, next-generation polyester solutions, such as our Return To Nature duvet and pillow range, as well as mass-market end-of-life solutions.

Leading the bedding category towards a circular model is a significant part of our sustainability commitments.

Furthermore, all the cotton we use is accredited by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). We consciously avoid materials that require chemical-intensive processing, such as bamboo, and are actively working with our suppliers to develop cleaner alternatives."

The future of sleep and The Fine Bedding Company

There are many changes happening in the world - and the sleep industry is definitely affected as well.

What emerging trends in the sleep industry are on your radar, and how are you preparing for them?

"We've observed consistent growth in trends towards a greater demand for circularity in both retail and products, alongside a shift towards more conscious spending and a sustained focus on personal health and wellness, especially among our target demographic.

Our brands and products are strategically positioned to meet these trends, thanks to our long-standing commitment to these principles.

Focusing on circularity is crucial for us as we tackle some of the most significant challenges related to end-of-life solutions for bedding."

What is your long-term vision for The Fine Bedding Company in the sleep industry?

"Our ambition is to forge and promote a bedding industry that is not only responsible but also beneficial to the planet, contributing to the remedy of our society's widespread sleep deprivation.

We aim to offer consumers a sustainable alternative to disposable, poor-performing bedding options, while also raising awareness about the critical role of sleep in enhancing mental and physical health."

What advice would you give someone looking to invest in a quality sleep product for the first time?

"Start with getting the basics right.

Amidst the plethora of sleep technology, accessories, and high-end mattresses, the importance of quality bedding is frequently underestimated. Yet, the two crucial elements for a restful night's sleep - sleeping posture and body temperature - are significantly influenced by your choice of pillow and duvet.

Material innovation is ongoing, leading to the development of advanced performance fabrics designed to address specific issues, such as allergies or temperature regulation.

Investing time in researching to discover the bedding that best suits your needs is definitely worthwhile."

What do you find most rewarding about helping people sleep better?

"We love hearing from our customers.

The benefits of a good night's sleep are immeasurable, and our customers often share their positive experiences with great enthusiasm, championing our brand.

lady hugging herself
The Fine Bedding Company thrives on customer feedback and support.

For us, the ultimate indicator of success is hearing how our products have enhanced our customers' sleep quality. As a small business deeply connected to our product development, it's incredibly rewarding to receive such positive feedback on our efforts.

Given the significant role of sleep in mental and physical well-being, and considering today's widespread issue of sleep deprivation affecting 30% of the population, providing effective solutions is crucial.

Being a positive force in addressing these sleep challenges is fundamental to our mission."

Thank yous

A massive thank you to Claire for answering all our questions so beautifully.

We're grateful to be able to collaborate with a company as proudly British as The Fine Bedding Company.

For more information on what the The Fine Bedding Company offers, check out some of our favourite products below.

Our favourite The Fine Bedding Company products:

Contact The Fine Bedding Company

Customer service: To contact The Fine Bedding Company directly for complaints, support, or queries, please e-mail them at or complete their online contact form [8]. Customer service is available Monday - Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm and Fridays from 9 am - 3 pm.

Registered office: Cobra Court 10 Blackmore Road, Stretford, Manchester, M32 0QY

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