Entrepreneur and star of TV show Dragons’ Den Deborah Meaden has thrown her weight behind UK manufacturing with the launch of an etailer selling UK-manufactured luxury goods.
The Merchant Fox has been launched in conjunction with Somerset woollen mill Fox Brothers, which is co-owned by Meaden. The website, www.themerchantfox.co.uk, sells luxury goods including ties, bags, dressing gowns and leather accessories, as well as home furnishings, which are all 100% produced in the UK.
Meaden said: “When I first got involved with Fox Brothers, it came to my attention that as a country we are losing a lot of our crafts and skills because people are not aware that these places still exist in the UK.
“If we don’t do something like this now, we will lose all of our skills. Most of the skilled workers will have retired in the next 10 years so we need to start now, making more things here and training up apprentices while we still have that knowledge.”
Meaden explained that when selecting products for The Merchant Fox she looked for high-end luxury items that were “deeply British” with a very high level of craftsmanship involved in the manufacturing process.
“It wasn’t always easy to find products that were truly British,” she said. “With Fox Brothers we have lost a lot of the support industry that would have supplied the factory, which makes it harder.
“It’s no good having a coat made in the UK if the buttons are not manufactured here. We want absolutely everything on every item on the Merchant Fox site to have been made here.”
Fox Brothers runs an apprenticeship scheme at its mill and two of its apprentices are involved in the design process and creation of the cloths used by The Merchant Fox.
Meaden invested in Fox Brothers in June 2009 before taking full ownership, together with co-owner and managing director Douglas Cordeaux, in November 2009.