To help it survive — and thrive — in Britain's shrinking textile industry, Hainsworth, a 225-year-old, family-run wool mill in West Yorkshire, England, has developed niche uses for wool. ... But it is one of Hainsworth's most recent, and most unique, new products that's making the company's competitors look sheepish: woolen coffins.
Thanks to a growing demand for green funerals in Britain, Hainsworth's Natural Legacy caskets — each woven from the fleece of three sheep and capable of holding 840 lb. (380 kg) — have begun to carve out a share of the U.K.'s coffin market, which typically numbers around 500,000 a year. Domestic sales now total 50 to 60 a month, and Adam Hainsworth, the company's commercial director, is confident the firm can capture 5% of the U.K. market within a few years, and ultimately reach a market share of 15% to 20%. "We expect it to become our biggest-selling product," he says. Moreover, Hainsworth has also begun selling the fully biodegradable caskets in the U.S. and other foreign markets. ...
Funeral director Mahony says that in his experience, the woolen coffins even have a comforting effect on the bereaved. "They give people a nice feeling," he says. "It's like wrapping a loved one in a warm blanket."
Click here to check out Hainsworth's Natural Legacy line