Green Business Awards 2008: Best SME - Winner HJ Berry & Sons

For a company with only 85 staff, furniture maker HJ Berry & Sons has developed a remarkably holistic approach to sustainability.

The company is committed to creating a positive contribution environmentally, socially and economically. At every level, the company is turning this commitment into practical initiatives. Also striking is that, as well as short-term goals, HJ Berry has an ambitious long-term vision to become a truly sustainable green business. So impressed were the judges that they found the company to be not only 'Best SME' (companies from any sector with under 250 employees) for its all-round performance but also 'Best Industrial or Manufacturing Company' (see p9, opposite).

HJ Berry & Sons has been making wooden chairs and tables at Chipping, Lancashire since 1840. The company's stated aim is to be socially responsible in all aspects of its business. The patient but thorough way it applies this maxim puts many larger companies to shame.

Long-term thinking pervades HJ Berry's approach to sustainability; perhaps this comes easily to a firm that has been managed by five successive generations of the same family. The site it occupies carries additional powerful symbolism. Its Kirk Mills HQ was used in the industrial revolution by Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the cotton-spinning water-frame. HJ Berry is planning to turn the same mill into an educational centre to help inspire a new industrial green revolution.

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