Silk is still strong in Bollington
MACCLESFIELD’S last standing silk manufacturer has been successfully flogging its wares in New York as part of its ongoing growth.
RA Smart Ltd has big plans for expansion, which includes investing half a million pounds into the firm and making its stateside debut in the hope that New York retailers will begin to stock the firm’s silk ties.
Ron Smart, owner of the business, said: “The New York show is part of our strategy for growth. The message we always like to stress it that it is Macclesfield Silk, which is recognised across the world. People like to see the Made in England tag, but they also like the association with Macclesfield, so we are doing as much as we can to encourage that.”
He added: “It’s going very well. The week of the show was the week they had all that snow so I wasn’t able to get out, but luckily three of my colleagues did and were able to do the show.
“We’ve arranged lots of appointments to follow up by our American agent which is very good news.”
He added: “We already work with bigger retailers like Ralph Lauren, but the point of this show was to develop with the smaller, independent retailer.”
The business currently has two brands; its “Robert Keyte” premium band, which was inherited after Ron Smart became a shareholder in Robert Keyte Silks based in East Sussex, and the more budget “Barnaby” range produced in Bollington.
The business employs more than 80 people plus a number of home sewers, but plans to take on another six members of full time staff and more homeworkers. It also plans to increase its manufacturing space and buy new machinery.
Macclesfield MP David Rutley paid a visit to the factory to talk about the plans for the business.
He said: “It is been great to follow the success of RA Smart’s business in recent years, and to see Macclesfield’s rich silk heritage celebrated in such an innovative way.
“The business’ development and job creation plans are great news for the local economy, and I wish all the team well in their shows later this year.”