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Dudson Derails Far East Products with Virgin Deal

TABLEWARE manufacturer Dudson has won a bumper deal to supply china to Virgin Trains.

The 208-year-old firm will produce more than 250,000 custom-made pieces for the transport arm of Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson's empire.

Dudson chief executive, Ian Dudson, said the contract, which represents enough china to equip 300 restaurants, is a major boost because Virgin will be replacing products sourced from the Far East.

Experts say the deal is "payback" for the firm's investment in design and efficiency, and that it will secure jobs in Stoke-on-

Mr Dudson said: "It is reassuring that our continued focus on making a quality, cost-effective product which is manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, is recognised by a major operator who has chosen to move the sourcing of this product back from the Far East to a UK supplier."

The range of beakers, square plates, oval saucers, cassoulet dishes, oval bowls and packet sugar containers, will be supplied in November to go into use in December.

They will be used on Virgin's Pendolino trains as part of an investment in first class catering. The company did not disclose the value of the deal, but said it was a "significant" contract.

Virgin Trains purchasing manager Nic Cuthbertson said: "We have been impressed by Dudson's professionalism in understanding our requirements and converting our ideas to something real and workable.

"They are an excellent example of fine British workmanship and materials."

Dudson, which turned over £23 million last year and employs 500 people at its plant in Scotia Road, Tunstall, also supplies Virgin Atlantic, Disney and high profile hotels
including the Hilton chain and Gleneagles.

The revenue boost from the Virgin deal will help the company cope with energy bills which have risen by half. In a bid to fight soaring costs, Dudson has invested in
kilns that use less energy, and more efficient machinery.It has also introduced a new glaze, ThermECO, which needs less energy in production.

The company exports 70 per cent of output.

Bryan Carnes, chief executive of the North Staffordshire Chamber Of Commerce And Industry, said: "I know how hard Dudson has worked to secure this contract and it goes to show that no matter what the market conditions, there is always an opportunity to do business."

Sue Evans, chief executive of the Ceramic Industry Forum, said: "It was a big disappointment to hospitality companies that the likes of Virgin Trains had been sourcing
their china from the Far East, so this is great news. This is a great coup for Dudson and it is payback for the attention and investment the company has made in product design."

Original Article Published in The Sentinel, Monday, October 20, 2008


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