Flying the flag for the region

Tony Grimshaw

The UK’s leading manufacturer of plastic housewares is taking on the world. What More exports to 72 countries with more on the horizon.

As Tony Grimshaw, UK managing director of East Lancashire-based What More declares: “There’s a big world out there.”

And he is urging more North West manufacturers to take the export route to future sales success. Grimshaw says the UK’s global reputation for quality manufacturing is a major selling point and urges business to take that message and run with it.

What More, which has a turnover approaching £50m and employs a 240-strong workforce at Padiham and nearby Altham, only began its exporting journey in 2007 – at that time it had just one overseas market, the Republic of Ireland.

Today exports account for 18 per cent of sales and What More and its Wham trading name sell their houseware products in countries including China, India and Pakistan.

What More makes more than five million pieces of plastic every month. The company has also moved into the lucrative bakeware market, making a range of non-stick and vitreous enamel products at its purpose-built factory.

Grimshaw believes that not enough manufacturers realise the standing British-made products have in the rest of the world.

He says: “People forget that UK manufactured goods have always been perceived as quality products. In the Far East they ask us to put the Union Flag on our packaging to underline the face we are UK manufacturers.

“We have so much confidence in our staff; they provide us with some of the best designs and products in the world, why shouldn’t we be able to sell them to the world?”

He adds: “There is a sense of pride in our export work amongst our staff. When you walk on the shop floor you can feel their enthusiasm. They are exceptional.”

The business is also committed to continued investment in new technology. “It’s a continuous process of investment and re-investment,” he says. “But it is not just about investing in pieces of kit; you have to invest in your people as well.”