Sustainability

Walpole x Great British Brands ZERO: An interview with Giles English, Co-Founder, Bremont

Bremont was co-founded in 2002 by brothers Nick and Giles English, inspired by their love of flying historic aircraft. Nearly 20 years later Bremont is an award-winning, globally renowned brand that makes beautiful, limited edition watches, sought-after for their durability.
6th Jan 2022
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Sustainability Walpole x Great British Brands ZERO: An interview with Giles English, Co-Founder, Bremont
In 2020, committed to manufacturing in the UK and not sourcing from China, they moved to The Wing, Bremont’s new manufacturing and technology centre in Henley-on-Thames, where strong eco-credentials include a living roof and recycled air heating system. And the limited edition, sell-out Waterman watch, tested by Bremont ambassador, diver, surfer and ocean environmentalist Mark Healey, supports Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, a charity to protect the ocean.


Do we really understand sustainability?’ asks Giles. ‘I’d be lying if I said yes – but do we care it about it? One hundred per cent. In my view, a Bremont watch is a is truly sustainable luxury because it lasts a lifetime, unlike the phone in my pocket that has obsolescence built in.’ Giles is not one to pay lip service to sustainability, preferring to investigate all claims fully before acting. ‘It’s very easy to go on about electric cars but dig deeper and you start to see it’s not so simple,’ he says. ‘I drive a 1985 Porsche but am I being less environmentally friendly than if I crated it and put it on a rust heap? I’m not so sure. It’s going to take a few years for us to understand fully what we need to put right, so we’ve brought an expert in to assess us, monitor our supply chain and do a carbon audit. It’s dangerous to use sustainability as part of your PR and marketing strategy. It should just be part of what you do, and you must be transparent about it, otherwise you’ll be shot down in flames. Our biggest hurdle has been the volume of resources we’ve needed to do this properly. Trying to rush it through won’t work because fundamentally you’re changing everything.’

Giles believes that travel, events and shop refits all create waste. ‘Not wanting to waste materials, we used clever design so we haven’t had to refresh our Mayfair boutique in nine years.’

The big challenge is finding quality materials for new product designs. ‘Should we really be farming crocodiles for straps? No! But consumers still demand crocodile for dress watches so we’re fast trying to research and develop alternative leather from cactus, hemp, offcuts, reconstituted rubber and so on. Elvis & Kresse designed us a wonderful strap from fire hose.’

Even though becoming carbon neutral involves detailed effort, Giles believes there’s no other option. ‘It’s all very complicated, but it’s largely led by our young employees, who need us to be doing the right thing.’ Bremont’s new Henley-on-Thames facility is already improving the brand’s sustainability and efficiency with details like lights that go off automatically when you leave the room, wild-seeded landscaping and the named Thermos cups employees use, to avoid disposable plastic ones and the dishwasher. ‘The facility represented a big extra cost but it will pay off,’ says Giles. ‘After all, if I were an environmental terrorist, I’d start exposing the brands who aren’t doing anything, and no brand can just flick a switch and pretend it is. So if you don’t start right now you’ll be exposed and ridiculed.

‘On the upside, consumers are more prepared to spend £5,000 on a watch these days if they feel it’s a responsible purchase. Sustainability is win-win.’

www.bremont.com

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