Former Steelite International ceo acquires Royal Crown Derby

Ceramic industry business leader Kevin Oakes has acquired 100% of the share capital in fine bone china manufacturer Royal Crown Derby, for an undisclosed sum.

In doing so, he has chosen to exit global tableware manufacturer Steelite International after a 39-year tenure, the last 10 of which were spent as chief executive.

Royal Crown Derby manufactures fine bone china tableware and giftware. Its products are 100% made in England, using techniques largely unchanged since the business was established in 1750. Over 130 people are employed at its Osmaston Works factory in Derby.

Kevin said: “Royal Crown Derby is one of the UK’s most iconic brands and I’ve always passionately believed that the business can succeed on the global stage.

“I led Steelite International’s acquisition of Royal Crown Derby in 2012 and I plan to invest heavily in the business to ensure our long term vision is realised.

“Market conditions remain extremely challenging and changes will be implemented across all areas of the business to ensure it is appropriately structured and resourced.

“We are committed to long-term manufacturing in Derby and I’m confident that with targeted investments in our team, our factory and product innovation, the outlook for the business is both positive and exciting.”

Kevin leaves Steelite International in a strong position having taken sales from £45m to over £100m in 10 years, while achieving record profitability in 2015.

He said: “Steelite International has been my life’s work and I’m delighted to hand the business over to the existing management team. I now look forward to concentrating my efforts on ensuring Royal Crown Derby goes from strength to strength.”

Royal Crown Derby sales and marketing director Christopher Oakes added: “Over recent years we have successfully diversified the business into the luxury hospitality market. We are now proud suppliers to leading establishments such as The Dorchester, Warwick Castle and Waldorf Astoria.

“While this strategy is paying dividends, the markets in which we operate are constantly changing. Therefore we need to be proactive to forge ahead of our competitors.

“The significant experience and skill of our workforce allows us to introduce new, technically challenging products – and we will shortly be launching tableware and giftware collections that we believe will be hugely successful.

“I firmly believe Kevin’s vast experience in the industry, combined with targeted investment, will accelerate our growth momentum and we look forward to the challenges and successes that lie ahead of us.”

Kevin has more than 38 years’ experience in the ceramic tableware industry. He is chairman of the BPMF (British Pottery Manufacturers Federation) and a board member of both the BCC (British Ceramic Confederation) and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP.

He was awarded Ernst & Young Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 and presented with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category in 2013. This year he was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University in recognition of his career and championing of the ceramics industry and UK manufacturing.


Kevin Oakes

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