Steelite Acquires Royal Crown Derby

Kevin Oakes, left, and Hugh Gibson

Kevin Oakes, left, and Hugh Gibson

STOKE-ON-TRENT, England–Hospitality ceramics maker Steelite International has acquired high-end ceramics maker Royal Crown Derby, the two British companies announced this morning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hugh Gibson, chief executive of Royal Crown Derby, also announced his plans to retire after leading the company for 45 years. “I know I am leaving Royal Crown Derby in the very safest hands,” he said in a statement.

The merger of the two businesses will also see Royal Crown Derby, whose origins date back to 1750, launch into a new market with a new brand called Royal Crown Derby Entertains, providing bone china dinnerware and accessories to major hotels, restaurants and hospitality venues around the world, the companies said.

The acquisition, a first for Steelite, reunites the two companies, both former members of the Royal Doulton Group that spun off many years ago and became private companies. With the acquisition, manufacture will remain in the Midlands, the companies said.

“This is excellent news for both companies,” said Kevin Oakes, chief executive of Steelite, which, like Royal Crown Derby, is based in Stoke-on-Trent. “Like us, Royal Crown Derby has a first-class reputation across the globe, and we know that our expertise as a major ceramics industry player can only strengthen the business offering from Royal Crown Derby and ensure they reach new heights of success.”

Steelite supplies tabletop for the international hospitality industry and reported approximately $108 million in revenue this year. It employs more than 70 people in the U.K. as well as 89 overseas employees. Its core chinaware products are made in its Stoke-on-Trent factory, the company said, and it plans to expand its factory to meet global demand.

“We have researched the international hospitality market very carefully over the past year and know that there is a market for fine bone china which boasts that genuine Made-in-England pedigree,” Oakes said. “Royal Crown Derby Entertains will fill that niche.”

“It has been a privilege to be the custodian of Royal Crown Derby for so many years and I am certain it will thrive and maintain its special place in the heart of the nation under Steelite International’s stewardship,” Gibson said.