Emma Bridgewater, Britain’s “queen of ceramics”, suffers a loss of £1.4m

Emma Bridgewater , Britain’s “queen” of pottery, has suffered a loss of nearly £1.4m as her company had to drastically discount its crockery due to fierce online competition.

The Stoke-on-Trent Group, founded by the designer Emma Bridgewater and named after her, suffered a loss in its first year of operation, following a profit of £1.1m the previous year.

Online price cuts were a result of intense competition in the homewares market during the traditionally peak summer period. This impacted sales growth.

The company’s profits were also affected by the rising raw material prices and increased energy costs in order to keep its Stoke-on-Trent Hanley factory humming.

The latest accounts show that sales rose by 9pc, to £36.2m, in the year ending May 2023. This compares to £33.1m, just a year before.

The group’s profits were impacted by a 20pc rise in production costs, to £21m, and a 15pc rise in administrative and staffing costs, to £16m.

The company recently cut dozens of employees from its 480 strong workforce to offset the economic downturn.

The factory cut 40 jobs in the summer of last year and switched to a four-day work week pattern for two and half months.

In February, 36 more jobs were lost and the group was forced to work four-day week for another two-and-a-half months.

To avoid a higher discount, the group plans to evaluate its pottery stock levels until 2025.

Emma Bridgwater, alongside brands like Cath Kidston or Boden, carved a niche in the homewares market for its quirky and colorful designs. The company is known for its Royal-themed ceramics. In 2017, the Prince of Wales, then visiting Stoke-on-Trent, unveiled a plaque that Ms Bridgewater designed.

Ms Bridgewater founded the company in 1985. She began by selling ceramics at a Covent Garden stall before supplying luxury retailers Harrods & Selfridges.

In 1996, she and her ex-husband Matthew Rice bought a Victorian pottery factory in Stoke. This helped to fuel the growth of the company.

The group, which is the UK’s largest potter, still manufactures all its ceramics at the Stoke-on-Trent Foundry.

Emma Bridgwater Factory Tours attracts around 30,000 people every year.

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