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World industry walks the carpet to Leeds

When key players in one of the world's oldest industries want expert advice, they beat a path to a few square metres of plainly carpeted offices and labs on the outskirts of Leeds.

There they find a group of technicians and scientists who have won a Nobel Prize, are considered global experts in their field and have saved architects and designers millions of pounds – and now they're walking the red carpet into their 90th year.

The name is a mouthful – BTTG T & C – British Carpet Technical Centre (BTTG T & C – BCTC) – but their role in the world of carpets is a massive handful.

“BTTG-BCTC is without doubt one of the world's leading carpet testing and technical consultancy organisations,” said Mike Nunney, Director.

“We started out 90 years ago as the Wool Industry Research Association, joined BTTG in 1988, and have far more expertise in testing of carpets than anyone else in the world – at least 60 years.

“Carpet manufacturers send us samples for testing from as far afield as the Far East, Australia, the USA and Europe – and, frankly, if those carpet samples don't pass the tests for safety, then they don't get the CE mark -and that means they can't sell their carpet legitimately in Europe.

“We currently test carpets primarily for the contract flooring market – for hazardous content, flammability and resilience.

“But the tests are going to get tougher as more and more environmental and ecological concerns are addressed by stricter testing guidelines.

“However, the key issue facing most businesses buying, fitting or selling carpets is, of course, cost.

“We are moving more and more into advisory and consultancy roles with architects and interior designers with whom we work to establish that they are indeed specifying or fitting the correct carpet.

“Carpet can be light, medium or heavy-use, and while the longevity and wear resilience of most carpets is in many – but not all – cases a given, appearance retention is a key issue.

“A carpet is not just a floor covering, it is a piece of the fabric of the building in which it is fitted and can be a massive influence upon the image a company, hotel or organisation wants to portray.

“No one will deny that a scruffy carpet gives the impression of a shabby or run-down business, so it is crucial that the right sort of carpet is specified for the right sort of usage.

“A carpet with a 5-year life expectancy may look good and seem tough, but it may be expected to last 20 years. Equally, what's the point in specifying a 20-year-life carpet for a business or building that will change its interior design theme every five years? This is the sort of consultancy in which we get involved.”

Wira was formed in 1918, testing and researching wool industry products. In 1952 a team, led by Professor Henry Daniels, won a Nobel Prize for research into partition chromatography to identify the proteins of which wool fibres are made. In 1982 BCTC was formed; it became part of BTTG in 1988.

BTTG T & C – BCTC is a UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited laboratory providing competitive, independent, expert textile testing, certification, advisory and investigation services across the traditional and specialist textile industries.

BCTC is an independent subsidiary of BTTG T & C Ltd, formerly the British Textile Technology Group. With more 90 years experience, BCTC provides unrivalled and expert reassurance through its technical services to a global network of clients which include manufacturers, retailers, the legal profession, police, consumers and related interest groups including Trading Standards. Highly qualified and experienced technical staff work directly with clients to ensure that they receive the best advice and service in a wide range of technical areas.

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