Sadler & Son (James, and sons Ltd)
Location and period of operation:
& Son (James, and sons Ltd)
6th March 2000
| 1929 and 1948 letterheads of James Sadler | | photo of party at Sadlers |
Wellington & Central Potteries, Burslem
Earthenware manufacturer, mainly teapots.
In April 2000 the name and business (but not the works) of Sadler was taken over by Churchill China.
Sadler mini-teapot decorated with blue and tan bands
on a brown background. The teapot measures 4" tall
Initials used on ware for identification:
J S S B
From Sadler's Internet Site:
James Sadler was founded in 1882, and is one of the leading manufacturers of teapots in the UK. It all began with James Sadler, who built a factor in Burslem at the heart of the ceramic industry in Stoke-on-Trent, and made a name for himself by making fine earthenware teapots. He soon became famous, and a James Sadler teapot became synonymous with quality and good taste.
The first teapots were made using a red clay with a dark brown glazed surface. The Rockingham Brown, or 'Brown Betty' as it is affectionately known, is still in production today using a more elegant, less utilitarian, white clay. From these beginnings, the company has flourished and grown to the size it is today.
It is an encouraging thought that the original James Sadler, whose great-grandson is the current chairman, would have approved of the diversity and design of the range today. His vision and commitment to understanding what the customer really wanted is the foundation on which the company was built, and is our philosophy today. The rapid growth of the ceramic industry in the nineteenth century brought prosperity to Staffordshire, and the world passion for English pottery in the middle of this century, meant that James Sadler products very quickly became world famous. You can find our ranges on sale in over 100 countries around the world, from the USA to Australia, and from Russia to Brazil!
We are proud of our history and our commitment to the future.
Remember, if it doesn't have the James Sadler mark, it isn't a James Sadler teapot!
Newspaper Articles on Sadler (from the Sentinel www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk)
17-02-1999 Big makeover for next millennium
By Andy Stanistreet
A Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm has been given a makeover to spearhead a new production and sales drive into the next century.
For the first time in 117 years, the family-owned firm of James Sadler has been given a new corporate logo and brand identity.
It has also slashed its product total, introduced new ranges over and above its traditional ceramic teapot production and re-targeted its customer base.
The moves come after the company suffered an estimated 15 per cent drop in sales last year. They are aimed at rebuilding the Burslem company for the 21st century, with consumer awareness and lifestyle solutions being the key to success.
Up until last October, James Sadler produced around 850 different designs, mostly teapots. Under its new tighter regime, it now produces a total of 340 items, including plates, cups and saucers. 160 of the items are either new designs or refreshed older ones which use contemporary colours or new surface treatments.
Design and marketing director Richard Eagleton said: ‘‘It was the classic problem, if a design sold even a few a year we were afraid to take anything out.
‘‘We had a massive range, some were stars, but others were feeling their age and so we rationalised, we launched new designs, accessories and limited editions to give a breadth of product that the firm and its customers never had before.''
The new James Sadler brand is also being highlighted to consumers through a dedicated marketing campaign. The company's traditional crown has been updated and kept, but it is now placed on a square copper background with contemporary lettering in white.
Mr Eagleton added: ‘‘We are becoming a consumer brand, everything we have done since October has been customer focussed. The brand will be clearly displayed on all our wares unlike in the past to boost consumer awareness and brand loyalty. We have been suffering like everybody else, but we are now aggressively attacking the market for the millennium.''
The family name of the firm is also expected to add its weight in marketing the new ranges. Store events, product signings and collectors' evenings are set to be hosted throughout the world by current managing director Mr Neil Sadler, the great-grandson of the founder of the business.
The new brand and products were launched at the Spring Fair in Birmingham last week and are currently on display at the Frankfurt Trade Fair.
James Sadler currently exports around half its wares abroad, with its key markets being North America and Europe.
PICTURED: Sadler's design and marketing director Richard Eagleton with some of the new ware.
16-03-1999 Ambassador for China
Business profile: Neil Sadler by Andy Stanistreet
One of the pottery industry's leading lights has taken on a new role which will see him jetting across the globe
Quiet, reserved and traditional — the exclusive Potters' Club in Stoke was an ideal place to meet Neil Sadler.
The man has an aura of genteel confidence about him, a languid air which exudes charm and friendliness.
Yet his laid-back attitude hides a sharp brain, a forward-looking business attitude and a practical approach to company policy.
What better person to be the new roving ambassador for a century-old family-owned firm now changing its style for the millennium?
Neil was born into the ceramics industry. His father Eddie ran Burslem-based teapot manufacturers James Sadler and Son with his uncle, John Sadler.
As soon as he was able to walk he was taken on tours of the factory on Saturday mornings, was introduced to high-powered sales representatives and directors from both the UK and abroad and was ‘adopted' by workers only too keen to let him try his budding skills at painting pots and making clay models.
But his early introduction into the world of trade and commerce did not end when the factory closed its doors.
He occupied a privileged place at the family dinner table. Because of the difficulty of long distance travel in the late 1940s and early 1950s, buyers from North America and Australia frequently stayed in the UK for weeks on end.
They were invited to the family home in Acton near Newcastle for evening meals and business discussions as a matter of course.
‘‘I cannot really recall ever taking much part in the discussions yet they were always part of my life. I remember I was always in trouble for fidgeting during the meals.
‘‘Even so, meeting senior businessmen as a matter of course right from an early age to me was nothing special, yet it helped me from boyhood to build up a wider picture of the business world almost unconsciously.''
Aged eight Neil was sent to Mostyn House prep school on the Wirral.
Aged 12 he was sent to Stowe public school in Buckinghamshire, where he continued his passion for games and took a particular interest in geography and languages.
In his spare time he watched motor races at nearby Silverstone, often begging paddock tickets to watch Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn speed round the circuit.
It was also at Stowe that he finally accepted he would one day become a prime mover in the future of James Sadler.
His father was frequently away from home for weeks on end, travelling to North America by liner to sell company products.
‘‘I remember going to Southampton docks to see him return from a journey on the Queen Mary. I went on board the ship and the size of it left me awestruck.
‘‘It was enormous and very grand. I went around my father's cabin and saw the luxury and thought then I would love to do the same as him. I wanted to travel.
‘‘I did not see any downsides to being away from home for weeks, it all seemed like an adventure.''
He left Stowe aged 18 and immediately started a course at Stoke Technical College for a diploma in ceramic technology.
‘‘By this time it was just assumed by my family and myself that like by elder brother Peter, who is now chairman, I would be going into the family business.''
For the next three years he learned the industry from the ground up — and, unsurprisingly, found himself doing his work experience at James Sadler.
‘‘I particularly remember the sliphouse. I was covered in slip from head to toe from 8am until late at night and it was incredibly hard work heaving clay about. I had also been ordered by my mother never to return home wearing my filthy work clothes so I always had to wash and change before I even got home.
Outside work, Neil, the proud owner of a Mini bought for him by his father, spent his evenings at a jazz club in Cobridge and frequented the George Hotel in Burslem with friends, both from work and college.
He also renewed a childhood friendship with Judi Day, who later became his wife.
After college he returned to James Sadler and became a management trainee, learning the ropes anew. ‘‘In a way I was a gofer, but I came up with new ideas and new designs and gradually worked my way in.
‘‘I also started to become more sales-orientated and went around with sales reps throughout Britain to shows. I felt like a million dollars when somebody placed an order for my own designs on display.''
In 1968 he made his first field sales trip to New York and Canada. It was everything he had hoped for and longed for.
‘‘Everything was fascinating and on such a large scale in America. There was more choice, bigger cars, huge distances to be covered. When I got back to Stoke it seemed like a backwater.''
Every year since then Neil, who was soon afterwards made sales director, has travelled abroad.
He's been on sales trips to China, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and many more nations selling Sadler's goods.
‘‘I get a buzz out of selling things and love travelling, even though it's always nice to come home. You do have to think on your feet to get the best out of them, but that is all part of the challenge.''
But earlier this year it was decided his role with the company would change. James Sadler, suffering from the effects of the strong pound, ageing products and a lack of public knowledge about its ranges, decided to launch itself big style into the millennium.
It scrapped hundreds of products, developed or revamped 160 new designs, altered its branding and launched a full-scale attack to get high profile consumer awareness of its collectability, tradition and quality on top of its already strong trade following.
And Neil Sadler — the fourth generation of the founder of the firm — is to become the ambassador of the company, spearheading the initiative throughout the world.
Although he's already travelled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe, very few of his sales trips have been to actually meet the buying public.
Now he will be responsible for organising a packed diary of engagements including store events and signings, TV and radio interviews, and jetting across to the far East and Australia to meet collectors and new customers. It is a challenge he relishes.
‘‘It will be quite an exciting role. Like it or not, I am part of the company's history and can give depth and tradition to our products because of my heritage.
‘‘I enjoy meeting people and find most collectors delightful and fully expect to be in demand as ‘the man who makes the teapots' in the future.''
He lives with his wife and their two daughters near Newcastle.
Character in focus
Favourite food: steak
Favourite drink: whisky
Business principle: honest, easy-going and fair
Favourite place: home
Favourite music: light classical
Favourite film: Brief Encounter
Ambition: more success in business
Favourite hobby: golf
15-09-1999 Millennium tonic for pottery companies
By Michael Howard
Millennium ware is helping provide pottery companies with a welcome boost in orders as collectors rush to mark the event.
Limited-edition designs and complete ranges are being sold quicker than expected and teapot producer James Sadler has followed Wedgwood in announcing a place in London's Millennium Dome.
The Burslem company has been chosen by Typhoo to produce a new pot for the company's new ‘‘millennium blend'' tea.
The pot was produced together with design guru Robin Levien and uses a nylon filter to hold the leaves which can then be lifted out to stop the drink stewing.
It will be in use in Typhoo's cafe in the dome and on sale in the dome shop, but a much larger number of orders is likely to come when it goes on sale in all 130 branches of Whittard's tea and coffee shops as a millennium teapot.
Managing director Richard Eagleton said: ‘‘Typhoo scoured the world for the ultimate tea-making machine and we are very pleased they eventually settled on us.
‘‘It will be very heavily promoted by them and we expect it to form a significant part of our production next year.''
Daryl Harvey, managing director of Fenton-based Sutherland England, said its millennium range now accounted for about 40 per cent of production.
The designs have helped the Sutherland multiply the number of staff employed from eight last year when Mr Harvey bought the ailing firm to 80 now.
He said: ‘‘We have developed into some good niche markets to build the company back up and the millennium range has been an important part of that.
‘‘There are 20 different items in the range and we expect it to go into very wide usage.
‘‘We are expecting sales to continue well into the second half of next year.''
The increase in production has meant Sutherland has expanded from the small unit it used to occupy in Spedding Road, Longton, into the factories formerly used by Wren giftware in King Street and Bishop Street, Longton.
Stoke-based Spode has just produced a second limited-edition millennium giftware range in fine bone china after many of the 2,000 first edition sold out.
The richly-decorated ware celebrating man's achievements is in addition to a separate range in Spode's famous blue and white ware.
Marketing manager Stephen Riley said: ‘‘Both ranges have gone extremely well and many items in the limited edition range are already sold out.
‘‘As people have become more aware of the millennium, the retailers have come on board and many are now following each other to get stocks in.
‘‘The millennium ranges are certainly at the top of our best seller list at the moment".
02-03-2000 Trouble brews for Sadler’s teapots
By Business Editor Michael Litchfield
The head of the world's most famous teapot pottery firm, based in Burslem for more than 100 years, was today refusing to deny rumours that his family-run empire was on the brink of receivership.
The 140 workers of James Sadler and Sons, who are aware of the company's problems, face an uncertain future.
Chairman Peter Sadler said today: ‘‘James Sadler and Sons is still trading, full-stop. If there is any change in the future, a statement will be made.''
When asked to categorically deny the rumours running through the industry, he said: ‘‘I do not comment on rumour.''
If Sadler does go into receivership, it will be the second great family-run Stoke-on-Trent pottery company to crash within a fortnight, following quickly on the heels of Longton-based John Tams Group.
Sadler has been suffering from the strong pound, ageing products and a lack of public knowledge about its ranges. In a desperate fight for survival, it scrapped hundreds of products, developed or revamped 160 new designs, altered its branding and launched a full-scale counter-offensive to try to achieve high-profile consumer awareness.
Neil Sadler, aged 56, was last year made a globetrotting ambassador, with the brief to put the company firmly back on the world industrial map.
The fourth generation family member arranged store events, TV and radio interviews. In between, he jetted around the world, meeting collectors and potential new customers.
At the time he said: ‘‘Like it or not, I am part of the company's history and can give depth and tradition to our products because of my heritage.''
Two weeks ago former chairman Edward Sadler died at the age of 89. That same day he had dictated letters at the factory.
In recent years, Sadler has exported ware to dozens of countries, with an overall turnover of more than £4 million.
Peter Sadler, aged 58, who had been running the company with brother Neil, said the firm had been forced to change direction ‘‘dramatically'' since their father's era at the helm
In order to try to remain competitive, some production had been outsourced overseas. The workforce had dwindled over the years from 500 to 140.
In recent times, the company had been producing 10,000 teapots a week in Burslem.
Mr Sadler's son, Matthew, aged 25, who has been in charge of imports, was hoping to become chairman one day and keep the family tradition alive.
By early this week the industry was awash with rumours of Sadler going into receivership.
Two Sadler suppliers called The Sentinel to say they had ‘‘blacklisted'' the company because ‘‘the word in the industry'' was that Sadler's would be in receivership by Thursday.
06-03-2000 Jobs threat as pottery goes into receivership
By Michael Litchfield
A total of 140 workers at specialist teapot manufacturer James Sadler and Sons Ltd face an uncertain future after it went into administrative receivership today.
Joseph Atkinson, corporate recovery partner of Deloitte and Touche in Birmingham, said: ‘‘There are parties that have expressed interest in the business and even at this early stage, we are hopeful that a going concern sale might be achieved.''
The company's freehold factory is based in the centre of Burslem. Founded in 1882, it has been exporting to all parts of the world.
Only last Thursday, The Sentinel reported that Sadler's was on the brink of becoming the second great family-run Stoke-on-Trent pottery company to crash into receivership within a fortnight, following hot on the heels of Longton-based John Tams Group.
The receivers' statement continued today: ‘‘The appointment follows a difficult trading period during which the company lost significant sales from Eastern Europe.''
It is understood that today's action was prompted by Sadler's bank.
Helping Mr Atkinson with the administration will be his partner Andrew Peters. They will be working closely with the current Sadler management team to keep the company trading. No jobs are likely to be lost until the whole financial position has been reviewed.
The company has been suffering from a strong pound, ageing products and a lack of public knowledge about its ranges.
In a desperate fight for survival, it scrapped hundreds of products, developed or revamped 160 new designs, and altered its branding.
The company's annual turnover in recent years has been in excess of £4 million.
Peter Sadler, aged 58, who has been running the company with brother Neil, said the firm had been forced to change direction ‘‘dramatically'' since their father's era at the helm.
In order to try to remain competitive, some production had been outsourced overseas.
05-04-2000 Churchill’s show of confidence by buying Sadler
By Business reporter Stephen Houghton
Churchill China has signalled confidence in its future by buying the name of failed Potteries rival James Sadler and Sons.
Churchill announced today it has purchased the right to use the historic teapot company's brandname, designs and archives, along with some product lines and stock.
The move, which comes after James Sadler and Sons controversially went into receivership, is expected to lead to Churchill employing up to 15 of the firm's 70 remaining staff.
Industry experts today pointed to the purchase as a sign of confidence by Churchill after rival Steelite International bought a 7.1 per cent stake in the company.
Churchill Dining-In sales and marketing director Simon Bell believes the move could lead to a massive boost in turnover and help secure the future of its 1,300 workers.
He said: ‘‘We believe that with the expertise our team has got in sales and marketing we can bring the brand up considerably from what it has been.
‘‘The customer base of James Sadler has been massively supportive to the receiver and when they found out about Churchill taking over, they were very pleased. We anticipate it will add at least £1million in sales to our business, and we are hoping for considerably more as we invest in the brand.''
Mr Bell confirmed the company was keen to compete in the collectors' market, which made Sadler's archives particularly valuable.He also stressed Churchill intends to operate the James Sadler brand as a separate entity, although its activities will be ‘‘absorbed' at the group's Alexander site in Cobridge.
The factory, one of four owned by Churchill in the Potteries, has a purpose-built casting facility.
Churchill managing director Andrew Roper said: ‘‘Basically we're purchasing the intellectual property rights to make James Sadler products ourselves.
‘‘If there are companies around we can snap up, it would be daft not to, particularly as we've got the production facilities to do so.''
Mr Roper pointed out the company had made ‘‘one or two'' purchases in the past, including its Marlborough works from the receiver of Alfred Meakin in 1979.
This week's sale, for an undisclosed sum, does not include the James Sadler and Sons building in Burslem.
However, telephone calls to the factory were today being fielded by a representative from Churchill China.
Mr Bell explained this was to make the current situation clear to callers.
James Sadler and Sons, which has been trading since 1882, has been run by administrative receivers Deloitte and Touche for the past month.
Chairman Peter Sadler sparked a storm of controversy by blaming his firm's failure on cheap foreign imports, while at the same time running a business importing products from the Far East.
Mr Sadler, who is chairman of James Sadler Imports Limited and recently admitted plans to set up an import facility in Newcastle, was today unavailable for comment.
Deloitte and Touche confirmed James Sadler and Sons' Burslem-based workforce has already been trimmed by half to 70, meaning Churchill's move will leave a further 55 facing the dole.
Corporate recovery partner Joseph Atkinson confirmed his firm would ensure existing orders were met, but said: ‘‘The workforce has been reduced from 140 to 70 and further redundancies are likely.''
The Sentinel reported this week that Steelite International had bought a 7.1 per cent stake in Churchill China, which is worth around £12.5million.
The purchase sparked fears that Steelite could be poised for a takeover - a move strenuously denied by Churchill and its workers.
Richard Platt, of Hanley-based stockbroker PH Pope and Sons, today claimed the purchase of James Sadler and Sons' name was unlikely to effect the situation.
Mr Platt explained a takeover did not appear imminent, and that companies were not valued purely on their assets but on their profitability.
He said: ‘‘I would have thought that to anyone analysing the business today, it wouldn't make a substantial difference to the valuation.
‘‘At the end of the day, it is whether a company can use its assets to produce more profit.''
Kevin Farrell, chief executive of the British Ceramics Confederation, agreed Churchill's purchase of the brandname was a sign of confidence.
He said: ‘‘I'm very pleased that the name and some of the products will be perpetuated.
‘‘Looking at the industry over the long run, there has been a trend towards consolidation.
‘‘Also, where companies have ceased trading and have a particular product, it is not unusual for someone to recognise that.
‘‘Churchill China's track record once they have bought assets or taken over companies has been extremely good.''
PICTURED: Churchill's Alexander Pottery, Cobridge, where the Sadler products will be made