South Scotland

Jedburgh's Mainetti hanger factory enjoys global reach

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Media captionThe Borders plant makes millions of clothes hangers every year

Jim Hutchison has a challenge for you that not many companies could lay down.

He says: "Check around your house tonight, every household in the country will have one of our products in it."

And it's no idle boast. As the managing director of Mainetti UK he shows me around the plant in Jedburgh. I have to keep asking him to repeat the truly staggering figures.

"We make 100 million hangers every year here in Jedburgh," he explains. "The Mainetti group worldwide makes around three billion."

The machines in this plant operate 24/7, rhythmically churning out hanger after hanger in an intricate, hypnotic process that's hard to turn away from. One machine alone will turn out 100,000 hangers.

Jim has worked for Mainetti for more than 20 years and is a self-confessed hanger bore.

"I am passionate about hangers, as crazy as it sounds, most people who work here are too," he adds.

Jim says that passion has been handed down from the Italian brothers who started the company in the 1970s and opened the Jedburgh plant nearly 40 years ago.

"The humble hanger has changed so much since I came into the business," he says.

"They come in so many shapes and sizes, colours, designs, materials, there's no end to what can be done.

"The hanger is a vital part of the product people buy, it says so much about the quality of the product.

"Every time you take out your favourite jacket or top or shirt, the name printed on the hanger is registering with you.

"They're not only a tool for transportation, storage and display, they're essential for marketing too."

Mainetti are by far the world market leaders. The client list is huge, from small retailers to large, low-end brands to top fashion houses, it would be hard to name one on the high street who is not a customer.

In a business with such drastic economies of scale, every detail matters.

As Jim continues his tour of the factory I can see his eyes are constantly going over the processes, watching as someone makes up a cardboard box for transit - is there time to be saved there?

"Every millimetre and every gram of a hanger has been assessed," he says.

"Because of their shape hangers don't pack well so we have people who pack boxes in a specially designed way to make the most of every centimetre of space.

Image caption Even a small change to a hanger can produce dramatic cost savings

"When you're dealing in hundreds of millions, every part of the process is constantly assessed."

The next time you buy something at the till and you don't take the hanger, the shop assistant will probably drop it into a box.

That box will more than likely be headed to Jedburgh.

Over the next couple of weeks millions and millions of hangers will be coming back to Jedburgh.

A huge part of the business is the reprocessing of hangers. Most get checked, cleaned up, repackaged and sent back out. Others are broken down and recycled.

"We're expecting about 9.5 million hangers back in over the Christmas and New Year sales period," says Jim matter-of-factly.

"We're very proud of the fact that the whole process is one big loop stretching all round the world.

"I quite like the fact that the public don't give it much thought.

"But I love it, the whole business is fascinating."

Follow Cameron Buttle on Twitter @cameronbuttle.

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