An historic Birmingham firm that made the winners’ medals for the 1908 London Olympics has hit out at the lack of merchandising contracts awarded to UK companies for the 2012 Games.
Vaughtons, based in the Jewellery Quarter, did not enjoy the opportunity to see history repeat itself more than 100 years on – losing out to the Royal Mint for the chance to make the 2012 victory medals – but the firm’s sales director Nick Hobbis said the fact so much merchandising had been manufactured abroad was a betrayal.
Mr Hobbis spoke out after it was revealed that 84 per cent of the souvenir items being sold on the London 2012 website were made outside the UK.
“I’m not so disappointed with the medals as I know the contract has gone to a British firm,” he said. “But I am disappointed so much of it has gone abroad.
“This is a British Olympics being held in London the capital city but almost 90 per cent of the things being sold have been made in other countries like China or Turkey.”
Mr Hobbis said the betrayal of British companies flew in the face of convention.
“For years it has been a tradition that the home country makes most of the goods – it’s about loyalty to your country,” he said.
“It’s being held in Britain, so let’s be patriotic and let’s do everything we can that’s British. It’s just unfortunate that this is the way it has gone.”
Vaughtons, which has been in existence for 180 years and made the door plates on The Titanic, is renowned as one of the country’s top medal makers.
It makes medals for an array of sporting events, including the Football League Cup and has been making medals for the Football League for more than 100 years.
Mr Hobbis added that contracts being awarded to British companies would have provided a much needed shot in the arm for manufacturing.
“Everything being sold along commemorative lines could have been shared out among many manufacturers in the UK and it would have helped many companies,” he said.
“But there is no loyalty in this country with the Olympics. We’re trying to keep people in work but they outsource everything.”
Vaughtons’ involvement in Olympic tendering was limited to the victory medals but Mr Hobbis said the firm might have tendered for other items such as badges had it been given an opportunity.
“I’m happy the medals were awarded to a UK company, at least they are being made in this country but they have outsourced almost everything else – not just badges and medals but teddy bears, clothing – everything has gone out of the country.