Prince champions export success of Bedfordshire’s traditional manufacturers

Dec 03, 2013


On his visit to Jordans Mill (pictured) in Biggleswade, the Prince will meet six locally based companies including a 300-year-old hat maker and a brewer with over 100 years’ experience. The firms export to countries both within Europe and further afield including USA, UAE, and Japan.

The East of England has seen an 8.7% growth of exports to countries outside the European Union at £12.11 billion, accounting for 44% of the region’s overall exports compared to 39% a year ago.

The export section of the Prince’s visit to the region has been organised by UK Trade & Investment as part of efforts to promote exporting and help the government achieve its target of getting up to 100,000 more SMEs to export. Its figures suggesr that could generate an extra £30 billion for the UK economy.

Liz Basing, UKTI’s East of England regional director, said: "More and more companies are finding that there is a strong demand overseas for products that have both the heritage and badge of quality given by the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp.

“Today puts a group of top Bedfordshire exporters in the spotlight and I am delighted we have the opportunity to showcase these companies as a sample of the best the county has to offer.

“Companies that seek out help from UKTI do better and I encourage businesses inspired by today’s visit to get in contact with us.”

Helen Nellis, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, said: "I am looking forward to welcoming the Prince of Wales to our county and introducing him to the range of excellent businesses which thrive in our community.

“Jordans provides a wonderful setting in which to showcase the best of Bedfordshire."

The companies who the Prince will meet have all received, or are about to receive, support from UKTI to export:

  • Boatswain Lighting combines the beauty of porcelain and the latest technical lighting developments to produce lights that push the boundaries of this ancient material. Individual overseas customers include the Four Seasons Hotel, Marriott Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Boatswain, based in Henlow, is a UKTI Passport to Export customer.


  • Brinkley Propeller Services, of Shefford, is one of the major facilities for aircraft propeller overhaul and repair in the UK. The company is set to increase export sales with help from UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme.


  • The Jordans & Ryvita Company makes cereals and crackers from the manufacturing facility adjacent to the Jordans Mill Heritage Centre at Holme Mills. Jordans purchases 80% of ingredients (by volume) from UK farmers in the form of oats, rye, wheat and barley. The company’s products are enjoyed in over 60 countries.


  • Tusting and Burnett manufactures leather used in handbags, boots and small leather goods sold across the world at its factory in Honeydon near Colworth. The great majority of the company’s sales come from export. They are currently participating in UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth programme and use other services including the Tradeshow Access Programme which helps companies exhibit overseas.


  • Luton-based Walter Wright has been involved in the making of quality ladies hats for over 300 years, making them one of the oldest "blood line" hat manufacturers in the world. The company designs and makes hats for individuals, film, theatre, television and supplies large and small department stores and boutiques world-wide. Walter Wright is a graduate of UKTI’s Passport to export scheme.


  • Charles Wells is the UK’s largest private brewery, with some of the nation’s best loved beers. Charles Wells exports to over 40 countries, an achievement that was marked by the Bedford company receiving the ‘Queen’s Award for Export Achievement’ in 1997. UKTI is working with this company as part of its Mid-Sized Business programme.
Last month UKTI launched a new national campaign, Exporting is GREAT, which is targeting almost 3 million people with the ambition of generating 3000 appointments with UKTI Advisers and driving £1.2 billion in export revenue from the leads it generates.

With businesses earning £100,000 on average in additional sales within 18 months of working with UKTI, there is significant growth potential for SMEs that start exporting.

  • The Prince begins his visit in Bedford, including a tour of the Higgins museum before unveiling a memorial to the women who flew from RAF Tempsford in the Second World War. He ends his visit with a tour of Jordans Mill before meeting senior Bedfordshire business leaders.
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