Merrythought is Britain’s last handmade teddy bear manufacturer

Merrythought is Britain's last handmade teddy bear manufacturerThe art of handmade goods is becoming more and more rare, especially for toys. In the UK, Merrythought is the last handmade teddy bear manufacturer.

The good news? According to Forbes, Merrythought is in a very good shape. The company nets higher and higher sales.

The company has been around since 1930. It started with making handmade teddy bears and continues to do so to this day. Naturally, now it has branched out to other toys, too, but the original business is still going strong.

Merrythought is still a family-owned business that is handed to each new generation. They are even still in the very same building. They have withstood World War 2 and now battle the tough economy and high competition from mass production.

At its peak, the company had 200 employees. Now it has around 25. Despite the tougher market, Merrythought has found a niche. “It was purely down to my father’s foresight in recognizing opportunity in the collectable markets that the business survived those challenging years,” says Sarah Holmes who runs the company with her sisters today. “In the early 1990s the focus was on high quality design, limited edition teddy bears, sold in the UK and US, and the growing Japanese collectors market.”

The company fell to a trap most companies do which is to get set in its way. This further slowed sales, so the company had to reinvent and improve its process. The company managed to put the focus on the classic English bear which is so beloved to this day. It also uses pure mohair, natural wool and other top quality materials for each handmade bear. Each teddy takes about 2 hours to make and each receives its own passport. Holmes say children often take these passports with them and ask customs officials to also stamp them as they travel much to their amusement and delight.

Merrythought puts an emphasis on all-things-British. It even was a licensee for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Holmes says it was the toughest 18 months ever, but it brought back the company. It now makes 30 000 teddy bears a year and since the so-called Brexit, export sales have gone up 20%. Now they want to expand their sales to other countries as they see potential and interest in teddy bears.

So, keep an eye out. You might see one of these cute teddy bears in your toy store, soon.