Wedgwood fires a new image, but can it reconcile the old with the new?

About ten years ago Polly Dickens (buying director of The Conran Shop at the time) and I were invited to visit Wedgwood’s factory. We were trying to persuade them to re-issue the Keith Murray Collection and also make some undecorated black basalt for us.

We were left in its showroom for half an hour to look around, then brought into a room filled with all the senior management and asked what we thought of its range. We told them that there was nothing we could sell as it was all very expensive, over-decorated giftware. We don’t sell “giftware”, we sell useful things, and the only thing we bought from them at that time was plain white bone china.

We then asked them why they didn’t make things that people could use all the time – for breakfast, lunch and supper; things that people would buy for everyday use which they could afford to break and replace. There was a stunned silence, as if we had just uttered a profanity in the Vatican. Somebody then said, “Oh, you mean self-gifting”.

It’s excellent that Wedgwood has changed design direction, but I’m not sure if it has yet fully tackled the “self-gifting” market.

The problem that Wedgwood now faces is to align its excellent new products with its traditional giftware ranges, because when they are displayed together in Wedgwood gift shops around the world they effectively cancel each other out.

Terence Conran

22 Shad Thames

London SE1

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