A 200-year-old English pottery has seen its brand enhanced in South Korea thanks to the lockdown hit Squid Game.
Denby Pottery, named after the Derbyshire village where it was set up by Joseph Bourne in 1809, has been steadily increasing its business in Asia. It is now on sale with a reported £50m valuation, and seeking new investors to expand ever further.
Founded on a rich seam of clay during the building of a main road serving mills between Alfreton and Derby, the brand is now ploughing a rich new seam of customers, particularly in China and India.
Since Denby’s Halo cup featured in an episode of the Netflix show, the firm’s popularity has increased further in South Korea, where it has a store in Gangnam, a district of Seoul made famous in the 2012 pop song Gangnam Style.
Back in the 1970s, Denby had three bowls in its range. Today it has 40, with items including nesting pots, straight-sided rice and deep ramen noodle bowls, small round dishes as well as soju cups in which to serve Korean alcohol.
In 2009 the company was rescued from administration by the investment firm Hilco Capital, a turnaround specialist that has helped companies including Homebase, Habitat and HMV. Hilco has appointed finnCap to advise on the sale.
Sebastian Lazell, the Denby chief executive, told the Times: “There are 55 million people in South Korea and they love the premium casual look of our glazes because formal ornate ware is out of fashion. They lay the table very differently in Korea so almost 40% of our production over there is bowls.”
Vikki Irvine, a senior brand manager at the pottery, added: “Our collections are popular with younger generations in Korea. It’s also a move away from the traditional tableware their parents owned, as we see a shift in the Korean culture for the younger generation to have their own identity.”
Lazell said Hilco was delighted at the sustained progress of its investment and was keen to ensure that the positive trajectory continues. “Denby Pottery, our investors and advisers are, therefore, reviewing options for the future ownership of the Denby Group, potentially involving the support of investors better suited to the increasingly international needs of the business in the years ahead.”
He added: “No decisions have been taken at this time and any potential future decision will be taken with the interests of the company’s stakeholders always in mind.”