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Ceramics make it special

With an annual turnover of £15m and 180 employees, Wade has been a leading UK manufacturer of ceramic products to the drinks industry – mainly the distilleries of Scotland and Ireland – for 40 years

Paul William Farmer Wade Ceramics

With an annual turnover of £15m and 180 employees, Wade has been a leading UK manufacturer of ceramic products to the drinks industry – mainly the distilleries of Scotland and Ireland  – for around 40 years. The manufacturer’s customer list is impressive – Pernod Ricard, Diageo, William Grants, Beam Export, and the various brands within these companies.

The Stoke on Trent company keeps up with the latest production technology and has over the past three years introduced high-pressure casting for hollow ware, robotic handling and, most recently, integrated super-heated steam drying equipment. This has enabled Wade to produce higher volumes more efficiently, thus reducing costs while manufacturing to much tighter tolerances and enabling the business to work with specialist security closures that prevent the re-filling of bottles.

“We are constantly producing new products for the drinks industry. The last one was probably Teachers 25 year old which is a special product only available in India.

“Our bottles are predominantly aimed at the premium end of the market for pouring on special occasions. We also produce special products, which are used to commemorate special events e.g. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Royal Weddings etc.

“In the UK we are well known for manufacturing decanters and bottles so we tend to pick up most ceramic enquiries. We are, however, starting to push into other markets at this stage, USA and India are two key targets.  We have appointed agents in these markets and we are starting to visit and discuss opportunities with some of the main players.

“The fact that our containers are ceramic and not glass distinguishes them from others in the market. However, in terms of other ceramic manufacturers, we produce what we think is a better quality, we are 100% vendor rated by our main customer and we can work to tighter tolerances than most other ceramic manufacturers. Our closest competitor is a French company called Revol and they have a small share in the contract with our major customer.

“I believe there’s a general trend in the spirits market towards premium products, either as new brands or brand extensions, with the design emphasis also generally aimed at the younger market to make the brands more fashionable.

“Every customer is different but increasingly environmental and sustainability considerations are being discussed. We recycle anything we can and are constantly looking at ways of improving our efficiencies relating to power and water. More and more emphasis is being placed on reclaiming raw materials to improve costs.”

Looking to the future Paul sees a number of growth areas for its ceramic bottles:

  • Organically with existing products into growing markets for these customers, as well as new products for existing customers
  • New customers, as more and more importance is attached to exceptional design/quality takes place, ceramic bottles will inevitably play a role in creating a certain amount of differentiation.
  • New markets i.e. India, China, US, Russia etc. where more and more spirits companies are looking to emulate the main players and make a distinction between their premium products to appeal to a younger, more affluent market.
  • Non-spirits uses i.e. beer, food packaging, perfume bottles, all of which have been done in the past and I believe these markets are also looking for a difference.

We have already started working in some of these areas with several projects currently in development for existing customers. We are also dealing with several companies in new markets to develop new products for them and we have initiated a market report on the German beer industry to establish what opportunities exist for ceramic bottles.”

So what distinguishes Wade ceramics in the market?  

“The main difference is our quality, expertise, technical ability and the ability to work to much tighter tolerances than others. We have invested in the latest technology available to ensure that our manufacturing facility is the most advanced in the world.”


25 March 2013