Shipston pottery firm scoops major overseas order
A traditional pottery business nestled in the South Warwickshire countryside is growing its order book on the other side of the world after landing a major new order.
Whichford Pottery, which is based in a village close to Shipston-on-Stour, has just landed a trial order for a very large bespoke urn decorated with 23.5ct gold for a new Middle Eastern customer who spotted the company’s work at the Chelsea Flower Show last year.
Further orders are set to follow and come on the back of exports to a myriad of other countries including Japan, America and several EU states.
The firm, which was started 34 years ago and is still run by potter Jim Keeling, has been assisted in its overseas business by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s international trade team.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber, said: “I look around at the work the company does and the quality and creativity stands out.
“Every single piece is individually made and it’s the attention to detail and the work behind each item that makes the company’s work extremely exportable.
“They have already landed several deals abroad and there are several more in the pipeline. They are a great success story and a great example of how a traditional industry can survive the modern pressures of business.”
Jim set up the business in the mid-1970s after learning his trade at Wrecclesham Pottery where he developed flowerpot making techniques that date back over 100 years.
He now employs more than 20 people – including son Adam – and encourages up-and-coming potters through apprenticeships.
As well as international trade, Whichford sells to individuals in the UK along with a variety of businesses and has recently been commissioned to replace a collection of Victorian pots with exact copies for Drummond Castle in Scotland. It has also recreated urns for the restoration of the Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle.
The company, which refines its own clay after sourcing it from three UK clay pits and makes around 30,000 pots a year, has also created pieces for famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal and Alan Titchmarsh.
Jim said: “The ‘throwing’ methods we use to create our flowerpots are fourth generation and come from a great tradition. Every piece is hand-made by a skilled craftsperson and – apart from digging the clay – every part of the process takes place here.
“International trade is an area that’s growing and there’s certainly a market all over the world for traditional, British workmanship like this.”