Not sure how many of you saw Countryfile on BBC on 4th September but they did a feature on supermarkets and how they use brand names. Basically, they are using clever marketing techniques which give the impression that meat is sourced from UK farms when, in fact, this is not necessarily the case. Tesco were featured but the suggestion was that others do the same thing. Tesco have brands such as Boswell Farms and Woodside Farms. Most people buying meat would tend to look at the brand and assume it was from a bona fide farm in the UK. Look more closely at the label and this is not the case even though it may be packed in the UK.
There is a similar situation we have in the ironmongery industry. Kirkpatrick Ltd is the only UK manufacturer of traditional Black Ironmongery but our competitors use similar marketing techniques to suggest that their products are made in the UK whereas they originate in India. The use of British place names give the impression of traditional British products but where is the Union Jack or a statement to the effect that they are truly British Made? The answer is that they can’t do this because it would be untrue. Kirkpatrick are the only supplier who can truly say this and we are entitled to use the Union Jack and more specifically, the Official Made in Britain logo.
It’s a pity, really, that although the food industry has to state the origin of the product somewhere on the packing this does not apply to ironmongery. We do what we can to educate our customers and our customers’ customers, (ie, the end user), but it is difficult. People see a traditional looking product in a nicely produced catalogue or website, (maybe with an accompanying video showing something being produced) and assume that it is being manufactured in the UK. The importers certainly don’t do anything to change this perception. A few weeks ago our Sales Director had to “re-educate” one of our stockists who still insisted that the products of one of our competitors were produced in the UK. If our stockists don’t know then what chance do the general public have?
So while everyone doesn’t want a British product and is willing to buy a cheap and cheerful imported one, how many people out there have been “duped” into thinking that they were buying into a product line full of authenticity and high quality? How many people have attempted to attain a traditional look in their British home but done so with an Indian product? Judging by the reaction on Twitter to the Countryfile feature it seems that the British public don’t approve of being misled.
Some won’t be bothered but if anyone out there wants an authentic piece of traditional British Black Ironmongery just ask where the product originates from. Basically, if it is not Kirkpatrick it is not British.