company profile: what more uk More Benefits in Uncertain Times

Tony Grimshaw OBE, Export Champion and Director at What More UK, talks to Housewares magazine about how resilience and a family-style approach has allowed them to succeed throughout a year of uncertainty.


hat More UK Limited was established in November 1999 and has grown rapidly to become one of the UK’s

largest manufacturer and brand leader of plastic housewares. Coming up to its twenty-second-year trading, the Lancashire based company is proud of the British-made products that it sells to a variety of retailers across the country. Some of the products include household storage, DIY toolboxes, bakeware, cookware, organisers, gardening pots, pet care, food storage and wooden brushes, all under the brand name Wham®.

Whilst the past year has seen losses in many areas, director Tony Grimshaw puts What More UK’s successes down to finding opportunities where possible and being on top of product development. The Lancashire based housewares manufacturer has 353 members of staff, all of which it managed to retain during the pandemic and were even in the position to hire more staff when the workload increased.

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They are exceptionally well thought of in Lancashire, says Grimshaw. “We are known as a company with a social conscience. We look after our colleagues which means our retention rates are unequalled. This attitude is a great recruiting sergeant and means that we have no problem recruiting new staff.” In addition to this, What More UK operates a full board structure which has survived 21 years. “We have the same people who we started with; we’ve added to the board, but no one has left.” Covid-19 has forced many companies to look at their online presence and adapt with the growing demand for availability. New product development is at the forefront of What More UK’s priorities and continues to keep retailers engaged with their products. “Our products are in all the good UK retailers. National supermarket groups, national DIY chains, departmental stores and what they now seem to call national chains of variety stores. We are also proud to serve over 1600 independent

retail businesses. Internationally, our products are available in 75 countries worldwide,” Grimshaw says.

Dealing with competition is part and parcel of business, but when business isn’t usual, it is a different story. “Our main competitors are mainly manufacturers in Europe and the Far East,” says Grimshaw. “We deal with them by heavy investment be it in manufacturing machinery, in new product development, our estate and of course in our colleagues. In a lot of these countries, they do not have minimum/living wages, national insurance, health and safety or even quality control. These are things we in the UK pay for and invest in. Our production and distribution facilities at What More are second to none. Even with the mentioned costs UK manufacturers pay, this keeps us more than competitive with imported products.”

Whilst the housewares industry has been hit with forced closures across the last year, Grimshaw expresses a great love for both the March/April 2021

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