With the royal wedding on 19 May 2018 causing widespread excitement among the British public, we thought we’d look at the many small businesses associated with the British monarchy. From the companies the royals hire for personal use, to the micro-businesses cashing in on royal wedding fever, it seems everyone is benefitting from the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Businesses that directly supply the royals are given a Royal Warrant and there around 800 such companies. The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles are all able to grant Royal Warrants to companies who supply goods and services. Nick Crean, of chocolatier Prestat, explained that Royal Warrant holders are a ‘fascinating group of people’ who range from champagne houses to horse feed merchants and everything in between. Royal Warrant holders can advertise the fact they are suppliers to the royal family, which is likely to have a positive impact on brand awareness and sales, especially among tourists, with the royals still a large factor in the UK’s strong tourism sector. Read on for details of businesses that are directly and indirectly linked to the royal family, plus tips on how to improve your chances of bagging a Royal Warrant.
More than 70 years ago, Her Majesty the Queen wore a pair of Cornelia James gloves as she left her wedding to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (now HRH The Duke of Edinburgh) and is still loyal to the East Sussex-based glove maker today. This is no mean feat for a small British company, Royal Warrants are up for renewal every five years meaning businesses still need to be providing a superior product or service. A hit with the Queen, Cornelia James is also transcending style generations by piquing the interest of the Duchess of Cambridge.
Royal Warrant tip: Cornelia James is a small company but renowned for its high quality products. Strive for excellence rather than volume and you could see a huge change in your target market and profits.
A favourite with the bourgeois, you won't be surprised to hear that Fortnum and Mason have held a Royal Warrant since 1955. But The Duchess of Cambridge clearly didn’t need to resort to expensive pantry-fillers when it came to a gift for the Queen at Christmas: “I thought, I'll make her something, which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney . . . I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table."
The Duchess could have got tips from her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. The Middletons own the company Party Pieces, offering to ‘create your magical parties’ with personalised cakes, themed party-ware and fancy-dress costumes. They caused controversy when their daughter married Prince William back in 2011 by selling royal wedding themed party ware. Perhaps they’ve learnt their lesson for Harry and Meghan’s upcoming nuptials - anything that could be remotely linked to the wedding has been quietly categorised under ‘British Street Party’.
Royal Warrant tip: Adding a theme to your products can cheapen it, depending on what industry you’re in. But then again, it might be worth at least making a mention to show your company is current- whether that be through a blog, email or social media.
They see me ruling
The royal family’s carriage awaits – albeit supplied by transport giants Jaguar, Land Rover and Jack Barclay Bentley Service Centre for servicing and repairs. Whilst these warrant holders are held in royal esteem on a continuous basis, we imagine London cabbies will be rejoicing at the anticipated influx of royal wedding tourists too.
Royal Warrant tip: Being granted a Royal Warrant lends a huge amount of credibility and prestige to your business, plus you can display the Royal Coat of Arms in your branding. It may seem like all the slots are filled but there is a huge variety in the companies that have Royal Warrants, do some research to see where there might be a gap for your company.
Our demure and stylish monarch pops her tags at the likes of Barbour, Burberry, Angela Kelly (she wore a Kelly design for her eldest grandson’s wedding in 2011) and Daks to create her iconic look over the years. Other sovereign style influencers include the late Princess Diana, The Duchess of Cambridge and almost-royal Meghan Markle. They have all provided a boost to the sales of bespoke designers and high street stores alike, with items selling out from the ‘Princess Effect’.
Royal Warrant tip: You may not even need a Royal Warrant to take advantage of the ‘Princess Effect’. Many small, unknown designers of jewellery, bags and accessories have found unimaginable success after their design has been worn by a royal. Small design companies could look to past style inspiration to predict what may catch a princess’ eye in the future.
Noble knock-on effect
No one likes a street party more than the British public and we barely need an excuse to dust off the Union Jack bunting, so another royal wedding is the perfect reason. This obsession with royal celebration is wholly welcomed by UK micro-businesses who are cashing in on wedding fever. Four Kings Brewery is one such company, a quirky Cheshire-based brewery created the Four Kings Windsor Ale inspired by Prince Harry and his bride. We imagine many SMEs are, or will be, following suit with their own creations and cashing in on prosecco-guzzling, sausage-roll-chomping party-goers.
Royal Warrant tip: Keep an eye on current events and a calendar of future events that your business could capitalise on. This doesn’t have to be limited to high-profile weddings; sporting events, bank holidays / patron saint days, and regional / local events are great opportunities to temporarily expand your product offering and capture more customers.
Thanks to Meghan’s American roots, tourist authority VisitBritain has estimated that about 50,000 Americans will be joining the crowds in Windsor. This could lead to a welcome boost in the capital, with ‘mini’ sales booms of £60 million expected in London’s shopping district and an additional £10 million for pub landlords, who have special permission to stay open until 1 am on the wedding eve. Whatever your thoughts on the royals, SMEs should make sure they’re not passing by a huge opportunity with the royal wedding.
Royal Warrant tip: Identifying events and times of the year that will likely attract a higher level of tourism is a great way to expand your customer base to people you may have been unable to sell to before, and build your brand awareness globally.