The William Edwards name is synonymous with the finest bone china ware in the world, based in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, home of Britain's 'potteries' and where bone china was first developed in the 18th century. This eponymous business began designing and manufacturing bone china over twenty years ago. It now supplies the finest bone china tableware to luxury hotels and restaurants, as well as private clients' homes and yachts, and continues to expand and thrive today, flying the flag for true British craftsmanship.
Current clients include some of the world's finest establishments such as Claridges, The Goring, The Connaught and The Ritz. While Historic Royal Palaces, Highgrove and Fortnum & Mason all stock bespoke William Edwards ranges. The dining rooms at Wimbledon, Lord's, the RAC, Jet Airways, Blenheim Palace, Aston Martin and Westminster Abbey all dine on William Edwards' fine bone china. The Orient Express Group (now known as Belmond) its hotels and trains, the Fairmont Empress in Canada and Burj Al Arab in UAE are all international clients.
The face behind the brand and a true son of Stoke, William Edwards was born there in 1963. He gained his first class BA Honours degree in Stoke, and subsequently was awarded a scholarship by leading Stoke company, Wedgwood to study an MA in Ceramic and Glass at the Royal College of Art. It was whilst there that he was tutored by various eminent artist designers in particular Eduardo Paolozzi, who was a significant influence on his work.
Following his degree show in 1989 Alessi offered William a position in their design studio at their headquarters in Omegna, Italy. This he declined, he was keen to establish his own business at home in Shropshire.
Over the next three years, his focus was on shape and pattern design in the tableware industry from throwing his own pots to designing and hand finishing the patterns printed upon them.
Whilst on frequent visits to the Ambiente Show in Frankfurt (this is the leading dining & living international trade show), William was approached by Hutschenreuther, since 1814 the leading Bavarian porcelain producer, to survey the existing screen print industry which supplied the major ceramic manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent. Fortuitously this led him to finding a small Yorkshire based print business, Ceramic Decals Limited, and within 18 months he'd bought it.
CDL quickly became the UK's leading silkscreen printer of decorative patterns, carefully hand finished across dinner services, commemorative memorabilia, bespoke designs as well as mugs and general use tableware for all the major Stoke pottery manufacturers Wedgwood, Royal Worcester and Royal Doulton. It gradually expanded to take on international clients. At the same time, the early 1980s, was a relaxation of import quotas from China which heralded the beginning of the end for UK luxury fine bone china ware. Added to which the trend for eating informally in the kitchen or dining out helped to bring formal dining to an end.
William could see that CDL need to respond and devise a new business strategy that didn't rely heavily on UK Stoke-based producers. The brand that emerged is the eponymous William Edwards, now focused on bespoke tabletop bone china products in 5 star luxury markets.
Now in 2016 with the launch of an online retail site, William Edwards is attracting new customers who appreciate the quality of his eight collections from the country influenced Tweed screen printed range to the stylish silver stripe sophistication of Metropolitan. For a selection based on four settings, prices would start at approximately £220 and rise according to the amount of gold or platinum used in any hand painted finishes.
From a workforce in Stoke of 82,000 people in 1993, the area has rapidly declined to approximately 10,000 in 2016. William Edwards is thriving with a workforce of 30 people, based in a typical Stoke redbrick factory with the canal winding past. His international sales increase 20% year on year whilst the business has a fast increasing market share in the UK's 5* luxury hotel and restaurant sector. William Edswards remains at the forefront of the design process and continues to fly the flag for British manufacturing in an area which prides itself for world class ceramic creativity.
William Edwards is married with three university-aged children and continues to live in the Shropshire countryside.
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