Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spode in administration

If there's anything I'm addicted to more than coffee it's tableware. A beautifully designed ceramic bowl, an elegant glass, a well-weighted fork. Divine. Two of the most sparkling occasions of my life were visits to the Iittala/Arabia factory outlet in Helsinki.

This morning I hear that famous English tableware companies like Spode and Royal Worcester have gone into administration (the beginnings of British bankruptcy procedure). The traditional ceramics industry around The Potteries of Stoke are under threat. The latest victims of the credit crunch? A failure to innovate in terms of technology and brand development? Both?

Taking joy at the misery of others demonstrates a poor character, but I couldn't help but have a frisson of excitement at the thought of taking a trip up to Staffordshire to tour the increasingly desperate factory stores.

If the online store is any indication, fine China can be had at low, low prices. For example, this Christmas themed deviled egg tray can be had for less than a third of its original recommended retail price!!

What a bargain! And if I regularly made deviled eggs during the Christmas season, I would snap this up. And just think of the fabulous deals that might be available in Stoke itself.

The Vol-in-Law was not as excited by the prospect. He said that we didn't have room to store more crockery and if we did use it, Buddy would only smash it.

That's not really the point.

4 comments:

Bob said...

The bargains you are so excited about are actually far from bargains. These are the cheap and nasty new stuff made in Malaysia and China - NOT the superior English made pottery. That's the whole reason Spode outsourced much of its production to Asia - to lower costs and reduce retail prices. People (like you, I guess) don't want to spend $30, $40 or $50 for a dinner plate any more. They want to spend $10. Do you really believe a $10 plate made in Asia of inferior materials will be as good as a $30 plate hand decorated in England?

As for your claim that Spode has not innovated in terms of technology and brand development, well that is total rot. Spode has for over 200 years been THE most innovative pottery maker in the world. I have been a regular visitor to the factory for the last 40 years and can tell you that Spode has advanced more than any other pottery maker, with the possible exception of Wedgwood. The reason Spode failed is due to the merger with Royal Worcester - a brand which had been in terminal decline for 20 years.

Maybe you are happy that governments have bailed out crooked bankers who got us into this financial mess in the first place - while companies which produce our heritage are allowed to fold. But maybe you don't know much about heritage, coming from Tennessee - a state devoid of culture and history. Enjoy my country while I enjoy your State.

Anonymous said...

My wife has been building her Spode Christmas china collection for the past 5 years or so and we just learned of the move in their manufacturing. This is quite disappointing and we're going to rethink even buying anymore Spode. I hope their margins increased, their going to lose some business here.

-Ohio

Anonymous said...

Ohio and Bob

You are both incorrect when you state the product made in Asia is inferior. The factories are set up to UK standards and use UK material!!!! The Asians are just as artistic and talented as any one in the UK. How bigotistic of you. Have you looked at where most of the products you use on a daily basis are made? Your designer clothes are all made in Asia! Most of everything you touch in your home is made in Asia! The quality coming out of Asia is much better than the quality coming out of antiquated factories in the UK.

Canada

Lizzie said...

Well if the quality is so good why do the mugs craze (multiple grey lines) one Italian one immediately (either it was the dishwasher or the microwave) and others from the Blue Room Collection after a few weeks wear and tear. Other original Spode mugs which I have had for twenty years are perfect inside. This is not prejudice against Asian made china (remember Ming?) but the inferior product released onto the market in the name of Spode. Also the decoration is cruder, a darker colour and less subtle.
Lizzie in London