Companies that unfairly trade on their so called Britishness

Companies that unfairly trade on their so called Britishness. In other words, companies who actively market their British Heritage but actually manufacture abroad.

There’s a tendency amongst many firms to claim British heritage in a way that misleadingly implies manufacture in the UK.

Lonsdale London (boxing) clothing is all foreign made, despite the name and the prevalence of little Union Flags on their products.

Christy Towels emphasise their long British heritage on their website and somehow give the impression of the towels being British made, whereas in fact this Indian owned company now makes all its towels in Gujarat, India having moved its operations there in 2010.

Clarks and Start-rite were both made in the UK, but sadly not anymore. Judging by some of the comments I have had, people think these shoes are still made in the UK when this is not the case.  Neither company has gone out of its way to tell customers that their shoes are now foreign made and are more than happy to mis-lead their customers. Start-rite ceased production in the UK in 2003. Clarks ceased production in the UK in 2005.

Boden (clothing) emphasise their “great British style” and somehow give the impression of their items being made in the UK, whereas everything Boden sell is actually foreign made.

Some Charles Tyrwhitt formal shoes are made in England. Regrettably all the other products (shirts, etc.) they sell are foreign made; this despite them using the name Charles Tyrwhitt Jermyn Street London, having a store in Jermyn Street, talking on their website about their British charm and about how Jermyn Street is famous for its craftsmen making shirts.

Hotpoint was a British manufacturer of domestic domestic appliances (white goods).  It is now owned by Italian company Indesit who have since closed down most Hotpoint UK factories. Hotpoint products are now generally imported, but I understand that some tumble dyers are still made in the UK. I asked Hotpoint / Indesit about this and they were less than forthcoming about where their products are made, but did confirm that some production still takes place in the UK and in Europe. They also stated that they are unable (read unwilling) to tell their customers where a particular product is made. There is a separate Hotpoint company in the USA making similar products but independent from Hotpoint in Europe and these products are not made in the UK.

An old Hotpoint made in Great Britain refrigerator, still in full working order in August 2013. Sadly Hotpoint do not manufacture in the UK anymore.

An old Hotpoint made in Great Britain refrigerator, still in full working order in August 2013. Sadly Hotpoint do not manufacture many of their products in the UK anymore. Photo by author.

Hoover (vacuum cleaners) is another company who have closed all their UK factories.

Dyson now make all their products abroad too.

Anglepoise (formerly Herbert Terry) used to strike me as a very British brand and they used to manufacture everything in the UK, but sadly no more. Anglepoise now only make the Giant 1227 lamp in the UK. All their other lights are made in China under license. Interestingly new Anglepoise lamps are very expensive to buy, whereas you might expect otherwise now that Anglepoise are cheaply made in China.

An old Anglepoise desk lamp, still in full working order in August 2013. Made in England. Sadly Anglepoise desk lamps are now made in China.

An old Anglepoise desk lamp, still in full working order in August 2013. Made in England. Sadly Anglepoise desk lamps are now made in China. Photo by author.

Price’s Patent Candle Company – Is a company I assumed still made their candles in the UK, however all their products are now foreign made. In 2001 Price’s Patent Candle Company filed for administration. An Italian company, Cereria Sgarbi Sp.A., bought the company before, in turn, being bought two years later by SER Wax Industry in the summer of 2003. Production was subsequently moved to Italy. In fairness to Price’s they, unlike many companies, do not attempt to circumvent telling people their products are now Italian made.

Whittard of Chelsea stress their British heritage but as far as I can tell all their teas are packed in Germany.  Some of their products do not state the country of origin.  They do though sell some British made tea pots and the like in their shops.

Lyle & Scott stress their British (Scottish) heritage, but nearly all their clothing is made abroad in countries such as Romania and Turkey, even their jumpers. Lyle and Scott in fact have two ranges at the moment all made in the UK (Scotland). These are the 140 range celebrating 140 years, and the 1960 range. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue, and they bring all their production back to these shores.

Hunter Boots (Hunter Wellies) are another company deceiving the public who naturally assume they are made in the UK (in Scotland). After all they are an iconic bit of British kit with a long British heritage. Not so. Although at least Hunter, unlike many brands, have the decency to admit making their wellies abroad on the website (unlike many others!). Anyway, Hunter boots (Hunter wellies, Hunter wellingtons) are not made in the UK.

As one of the best known stationery brands in the UK, the long established Basildon Bond stress their so called Britishness, but in fact their writing paper and envelopes are now “made in the EU”.  In other words their products are NOT made in the UK anymore.  Basildon Bond are now part of Hamelin Brands Limited.

Richardson Sheffield is a major supplier of kitchen knives and scissors to the UK market. It is owned by the Dutch Amefa group. Their knives used to be made in England (I have a set of Richardson kitchen knives that were made in England) but production is now in the Far East. The company retains ‘Sheffield’ in its name which is an outright deception of British consumers and should not be allowed.

Mason Cash – These were top quality bowls made in England; sadly now they are made abroad :-( – I asked the company and they responded as follows “Many thanks for your enquiry; please be advise that none of the Mason Cash range are made in the UK.”

Cornishware by T.G.Green and Co. is no longer made in the UK, since 2007 when the factory closed after its original parent company went into administration. Whilst you might expect pottery with the name Cornishware to be made in the UK, it is in fact now made abroad.  The new owners have been careful to avoid mentioning this on their website, although they were  very helpful when I asked.

Jack Wills Fabulously British Chinese – In fairness Jack Wills do sell a few things that are made in Britain, but not very many. They do for example sell a limited range of British made shoes made for them by NPS. Most of their products appear to be made in China though. Jack Wills actually have the audaciousness to say on their website “Britishness anchors all that we do”.

Barbour – I think there is an assumption among consumers that everything Barbour sell is made in England. Not so. Only their classic waxed jackets are made in England (and a few hats and scarves are made in Scotland). Everything else is made abroad. Even some wax jackets are now made abroad. If there is no made in England label on a Barbour, then it is foreign made.

Belstaff are worse though.  Belstaff talk about their proud British heritage, but non of their products are made in England anymore.  They do however state the origin of their products on their website (most are made in Italy).

Marks and Spencer – In 1999, Marks & Spencer became the last major high-street retailer to transfer its production overseas, despite sustained pressure from the government to stay in Britain. The company buys 70% to 80% of its clothes from factories in three key “hubs”: Turkey, China, and a hub that includes India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Is it just a coincidence that since M&S moved their manufacturing abroad UK manufacturing has been in decline and M&S themselves have been struggling to survive? I think not! Interestingly autumn/winter 2012 saw the introduction of a small collection of items 100% designed and made in Great Britain, at M&S. See – and autumn 2013 saw the introduction of their Best of British Collection.  Interesting moves from Marks and Spencer, a company that was almost single handedly responsible for the demise of British clothing manufacture.

A label inside one of my old jackets saying St Michael Made in the UK. Until 1999 pretty much everything in M&S was UK made; now, excepting foods, pretty much everything in M&S is foreign made.

A label inside one of my old jackets saying St Michael Made in the UK. Until 1999 pretty much everything in M&S was UK made; now, excepting foods, pretty much everything in M&S is foreign made.

Marks and Spencer food halls still have lots of great British made foods to choose from.

I was looking at gifts in M&S last Thursday (22.11.12) – lots of Chinese tat but I did find these great made in England mugs and the wrapping paper I got in there was made in the UK 🙂

Made in England mug from M&S 22.11.12

Burberry – Burberry do still make their raincoats in the UK (they have 2 factories still in the UK in Castleford where it makes raincoats and a smaller one at Keighley) but Burberry has been shedding British jobs and closing British factories of late. Most of its clothes are made abroad. This article is interesting –

The Body Shop – Body Shop products were always made or packaged in the UK but lately many of their products seem to be made abroad. Check what you are buying is made in the UK. That said many Body Shop products are still made in the UK.  Check the packaging and only buy British made Body Shop products.

Souvenir Shops – Pretty much any souvenir shop in the UK sells tat that is made in China. Now if you go to say Poland and buy a souvenir fridge magnet it will be made in Poland. In the UK it will almost certainly be made in China! When you travel you should buy locally made gifts I think and I would encourage tourists in the UK to do the same. My personal pet hate is anything with a Union Flag on it or anything celebrating events like the Queen’s Golden Jubilee that is made abroad. If it has a Union Flag on it, then it ought to be made in Britain! If it has a picture of the Queen, then it should be made in Britain or the Commonwealth! If you are buying such products, please check they are British made.

WHSmith have a long British heritage but everything I have seen recently in WHS has been expensive and made abroad (even some of their books!).  WHSmith now no longer label their own brand products with their country of origin which means they are are NOT made in the UK anymore.

Boots the Chemist have a long British history but I note many of their own brand products no longer label the country of origin. For example Boots multivitamins and Boots kitchen soap do not state the country of origin.  If their products do not say made in the UK on them we can assume they are made abroad. Some Boots own label products, such as some Boots moisturisers, Boots suntan cream which is made in the UK and their Botanics range some of which is made in the UK, are still labelled with the country of origin and they sell other UK made products such as Rimmel London too some of whose products are UK made.  When shopping in Boots check the packaging and only buy British made products. Boots themselves are now an American owned company.

Boots essentials moisturising cream cucumber 100ml. Made in the UK. Photograph by author.

Boots essentials moisturising cream cucumber 100ml. Made in the UK. Photograph by author.

Boots essentials moisturising cream cucumber 100ml. Made in the UK. Photograph by author. Bottom of tub label view.

Boots essentials moisturising cream cucumber 100ml. Made in the UK. Photograph by author. Bottom of tub label view.

Alan Paine have now closed the last of their UK factories. On their website they talk about their proud heritage supplying knitwear to Edward VIII, making sweaters during the war for the navy and being worn by George Mallory. No-where do they mention the factory closures and subsequent impact on people’s lives or the fact that all their clothing is now made abroad. Although some Alan Paine knit fabrics come from Z Hinchcliffe and Sons in Yorkshire, Alan Paine knitwear is made abroad, in places such as Madagascar.

Heinz HP Sauce is made in the Netherlands! Don’t think they should be allowed to call it British or for that matter to have the Houses of Parliament on the bottle.

Start-Rite children’s shoes bang on about their British heritage on their website, but since 2003 they have outsourced all their manufacturing to companies in India.

D.C. Thomson and Co annuals have discontinued great comics like the Topper and the Sparky and the only comic books they now sell, the Beano and the Dandy, are now printed in Italy.

Double Two shirts no longer manufactured in the UK. To quote from the companies website:

“In more recent years, production in the UK has become extremely expensive and the Group has gradually moved its production offshore and now manufactures throughout the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Only repairs and alterations are now done at Wakefield, although some garments also have embroidered logos added there.”

At least Double two are honest and open about where they make their shirts on their website, unlike many heritage brands and all credit to them for that.

Wilkinson Sword were a British company, but they no longer make swords and their razors are now made abroad. You can find a brief history of the company here in my article about razors.

Aspinal of London – Despite the name, Aspinal of London products are nearly all foreign made. On their Facebook page they say “Aspinal of London’s covetable contemporary classics are all handcrafted in the finest factories in Europe. Some families of bags and all of the brands stationery and notebooks are made entirely in England, some with English hardware, leather and fabric linings.” Their diaries for example are made in England but most products are foreign made.

Radley London – Again, despite the name, Radley London purses and bags are foreign made.

Links of London jewellery – made in Thailand, despite the name!

Beatrix Potter products  – the books (sold by Penguin under the name of Frederick Warne and Co.) are now printed outside of the UK – the pottery by Wedgwood is now made outside the UK – Penguin are spoiling the name of Beatrix Potter’s creation Peter Rabbit by having everything associated with it made abroad. I suspect Beatrix Potter would not approve.


11 thoughts on “Companies that unfairly trade on their so called Britishness

  1. Littlejohn

    Hi, very occasionally Lyle and Scott still offer some products that are made in the UK. I purchased a jacket – a sporting blazer in 2011 which was made in Scotland, and although I did not buy anything else from them, I remember seeing some other coats and jackets in the vintage range were also made in the UK. Whether that is still the case, I cannot say. Most of their products seems to be made in China now.

  2. ukmade Post author

    Hi. Thanks for your comment. I have a Lyle and Scott made in Scotland jumper which I love, but it is old. They may occasionally still produce items in the UK but everything I have seen of late from Lyle and Scott is foreign made.

  3. saibot

    Lyle and Scott in fact have two ranges at the moment all made in the UK (Scotland). These are the 140 range celebrating 140 years, and the 1960 range. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue, and they bring all their production back to these shores.

    1. ukmade Post author

      Hello. Thanks for letting me know about the Lyle and Scott made in Britain range. As you say let’s hope they bring more or even all of their production back to the UK. Thanks again.

  4. planB4fashion - John R

    London Fashion Week aka British Fashion Council aka grants from Greater London Authority and Department for Business (national government) are regular offenders promoting snobbery and calling it British. One of the odd things about them is that they are a PR and grant-claiming organisation, willing to change to suit their backers or commission reports (“The Value of Fashion”) to fob-off funders.

    I live in London and have persuaded Greater London Authority members to ask questions about them, but I don’t have a constituency member who is willing to fix a three-way meeting with them. Maybe readers in other parts of London will have more luck.

  5. Rob Miller

    I recently messaged you re a company on E-bay that was selling UK made insoles; I had bought a pair but only later did I read on your site that there are now NO UK manufacturers of insoles. I messaged you details of this site & informed you that I would be contacting them re product provenance & would inform you of my findings.
    The dealer replies that he will make inquiries of his supplier but wonders as to the motive of my question as nowhere on his ad. does he state UK made. As I compare the present ad. with the printout of the ad. prior to my message (tee hee…) I see he has made rapid changes in order to plead innocence/ignorance: clicking on “see original ad” however, brings up an ad festooned with UK Made!
    It IS possible that chap is a mere dupe (I know I was) but the ease & rapidity of his lying suggests otherwise. I suppose I could make difficulties for him with E-bay but will now consider the matter closed now the ad. is correct. Let us hope he learns…
    Anyhoo, I can’t feel pleased with myself. When I read on your site that there were no British manufacturers of insoles, I thought I had found the exception. Regrettably, you were right!

    1. ukmade Post author

      Hi. I’m not sure who you were dealing with on eBay but there are certainly UK made insoles to be found on eBay and elsewhere. I saw some in the supermarket just the other day. I need to make the article on shoelaces, insoles, etc a bit clearer and more comprehensive regarding insoles, but there are companies still making insoles in the UK. Have a good look and you should be able to find some. Cheers.

  6. Mercia crops

    I remember seeing “Made in Great Britain”/on hotpoint products and would point it out whenever someone said ” we don’t make anything any more” which gets under my skin.
    We obviously don’t make nearly as much and a lot of it goes unseen, but we do make a lot still.

    With regards to hotpoint, I knew it’d end up like this. Indesit just wanted the brand name as hotpoint was dominant in the UK.
    The quality used to be very good, I noticed it declined considerably post-indesit takeover and I’m not imagining it. They also dropped “made in great Britain” from their appliances and don’t state where they’re made now, presumably Italy and other Indesit factories all over Europe. Hotpoint models are often interchangeable branded as hotpoint or Indesit too now.
    They were the last big British white goods manufacturer, all that’s left are some small ones like White Knight which aren’t exactly household names, I have no idea why such a strong brand sold out, but it’s typical in this country where shareholders are after a quick buck over supporting the economy.

    Indesit is in turn owned by Whirlpool and they’re a big company but Bosch and Samsung are entering the game with much better products making Indesit / Whirlpool / Hotpoints stuff at a similar price look like a entry-level, value offering in comparison.

    On the entry level front they also have competition from Beko and Vestel (again), two Turkish companies which manufacturer goods under their own name (Beko) and also sell as store brands such as Bush’s white goods and Lamona (Howdens own brand).

    As I mentioned in my TV comment, a lot of entry-level appliances in Europe are actually “near-shored” (manufactured in a cheaper foreign country but closer to the market than China), this seems true of larger appliances because maybe shipping costs too much. Turkey seems to have two industrial champions in Vestel and Beko and although they’re not often thought of as a big manufacturing nation or outsourcing destination they’re actually pretty far in the game at the low cost segment of the market.

    I’ve noticed over the past few years the price of appliances and electronics falling. This is what is causing the lower cost of living in some things but is killing much of Europe’s own industry.
    At least though in my small town there’s two big multinationals manufacturing components (airbags and washing machine motors) even if theyre not British. And some big chemical, pharmaceutical and food companies in the surrounding ones, most of them British.


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