QUITE a few Dorset brand names have become known across the nation – and in some cases the world.

We have taken a look at some of its best-known exports, who founded them, and how big they have become.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Luxury motor yachts

Headquartered: West Quay Road, Poole

Founded: 1969, by Robert Braithwaite

Sunseeker yachts have been featured in four James Bond films and can be spotted moored off some of the most desirable resorts in the world.

The business’s roots lie in the 1960s, when Robert Braithwaite founded Friars Cliff Marine, selling various kinds of small power boats.

The firm was renamed Poole Powerboats when it moved to the town in 1969, launching the first boat of its own, the Sovereign 17, in 1971. Robert Braithwaite’s brother John joined the business in 1972 and became responsible for design.

Sunseeker founder Robert Braithwaite has died at the age of 75

Taking the name Sunseeker International in 1985, the company is today a major Dorset employer, with around 2,000 staff in Poole and Portland, and is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda.

How big is it?  

In 2019, Sunseeker’s revenue stood at £302.1million. Covid-19 forced an extended shutdown of the factories and prompted the announcement of 460 redundancies. But the company expects to be in a “market-leading position” after the pandemic, with new models going ahead. Dalian Wanda injected £35m in working capital last year.

Sunseeker 'will be in market-leading position' after Covid-19


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Cosmetics and toiletries

Headquartered: Dolphin Quays, Poole

Founded: 1995, by Liz Weir (later Bennett), Mark Constantine, Mo Constantine, Rowena Bird, Helen Ambrosen, Paul Greeves.

Poole’s globally famous maker of cosmetics and smellies was born from the ashes of another company, the mail order supplier Cosmetics To Go.

Its founders had previously worked together in Constantine & Weir, which had supplied many products to the Body Shop.

Mark and Mo Constantine on the 20-year success of Lush

The business has a devoted following for its cruelty-free and environmental credentials, its savvy with digital marketing, the distinctive smell and style of its shops, and its willingness to take a stance on issues such as Brexit, fracking and fox hunting.

How big is it?

Lush has 928 shops as of its last annual report, with seven factories. Group turnover £545m for the year ending in June 2019.

Last year, Mark Constantine and fellow director Mo were jointly at number 393 on the Sunday Times Rich List, with their stake in the business reckoned to be worth £281m before the Covid crisis.

Lush reports on coronavirus, Brexit and recession fears


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Stationery

Headquartered: Bournemouth Road, Branksome

Founded: 1999 by Chris Stott

Beloved by students and letter writers, Pukka Pads sells its products to many countries around the world, as well as supplying stationery under retailers’ brand names.

It has a trading and sales office in Hong Kong, a warehouse in Germany and two UK plants producing envelopes and filing products. It employs 109 people.

How big is it?

Turnover for the year ended March 2019 was £18.54m, down from £19m the year before.

Its annual report noted that its product listings with major retailers were growing, with notebook and pad sales up 9.5 per cent year-on-year, but that “challenges remain in some non-core areas such as index and dividers”.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: The lava lamp

Headquartered: Willlis Way, Poole

Founded: 1963, as Crestworth, by Edward Craven Walker

The lava lamp was the brainchild of Edward Craven Walker, an eccentric inventor, World War II pilot, owner of helicopters and fire engines, and maker of underwater naturist films.

He led a team to develop the lamp based on an egg timer he saw in a Dorset pub.

He and his wife Christine ran the business when the lamps became iconic home accessories.

In 1989, the Craven Walkers teamed up with Cressida Granger and David Mulley to bring the lamps to a new generation. The business was renamed Mathmos, after the underground fluid Matmos in the cult 1968 film Barbarella.

How big is it?

More than four million lava lamps have been sold and the company has twice won the Queen’s Award for Export. Mathmos Ltd remains officially a small business, employing 21 people.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Collectable pottery, tiles, flooring.

Headquartered: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire (Denby Pottery Company)

Founded: 1873 by Jesse Carter, as Carter & Company.

Poole Pottery took the town’s name around the world throughout the 20th century, its products stocked in Tiffany’s, Harrods, Selfridge’s and Bloomingdale’s.

It began life on the East Quay as Carter & Company, its glazed tiling used on mosaic floors, walls and advertising panels. Ornamental pottery began in earnest in 1921. The name of the business was changed to Poole Pottery in 1963.

GALLERY: 144 years of Poole Pottery on the Quay

After business troubles in the 1990s, production was moved away from the Quay to Sopers Lane in 2001. It was taken over by Lifestyle and production was moved to Stoke-on-Trent. It is now owned by Denby Pottery, still made in Stoke-on-Trent. Its Poole Quay shop, where some pots were still thrown, closed in 2017.

How big is it?

It is now a brand of the Denby Pottery company, with a turnover of £50.4m in 2019.

Farewell Poole Pottery: “Iconic” brand to leave town for good after almost 150 years


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Healthy baby and toddler food

Headquartered: Commercial Road, Bournemouth

Founded: 1992, by Lizzie Vann Found in supermarket aisles everywhere, Organix was the vision of campaigner Lizzie Vann, who set up the business in Christchurch.

It was acquired in 2008 by the Swiss-based international Hero Group.

Organix baby and toddler food has a new managing director

Today, it is the number one baby finger food and toddler snack brand, with a market share of more than 36 per cent. In recent years, it launched an award-winnning Gruffalo Claws range.

How big is it?

It is part of the much bigger Hero Group, but Bournemouth-based Organix Brands Ltd had a turnover of £31m in 2019 and employed 52 people.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Iced coffee.

Headquartered: Airfield Road, Christchuch

Founded: 2010, by Jim Cregan and Suzie Owen.

Jim Cregan developed a taste for iced coffee when travelling in Australia.

After being turned down when he asked the makers of his favourite brand whether he could bring it to the UK, he teamed up with his sister Suzie to create their own. The first version of the product was mixed at her coffee shop, Blend in Christchurch.

Jimmy's Iced Coffee co-founder Suzie Cregan interviewed

Jim’s personality and the brand’s flair for social media helped build up a loyal following for the drink and its hashtag #KYCU (“Keep your chin up”).

It is now stocked in 5,000 shops including Waitrose, Tesco, M&S, Boots and most recently, Co-Op, and has branched out into cola.

Jimmy's Iced Coffee stocked in Co-op – after eight years of talks

How big is it?

Jimmy’s has had at least one takeover offer, and turned over more than £5m in 2019.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Beer and pubs

Founded: 1777, by Charles Hall

Headquartered: Blandford St Mary

Among the early customers for Charles Hall’s beer were agricultural labourers who could not read – so the symbol of a badger was a handy signifier of their favourite brand.

The family-owned business now has more than 180 pubs across the south of England and sells 16million bottles of its Badger beer in supermarkets alone.

Hall & Woodhouse reports on lockdown and annual results

How big is it?

In the year ending January 2020, Hall & Woodhouse made a pre-tax profit of £6.9m.

The Woodhouse family – including company chairman Anthony Woodhouse – have made the Sunday Times Rich List in recent years, coming in at number 886 last year with an estimated fortune of £137m.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Tea, fruit and herbal infusion

Headquartered: Cobham Road, Ferndown Industrial Estate

Founded: 1934 (Keith Spicer Ltd)

Dorset Tea was launched in 2009 and is the most famous of the brands belonging to Spicers – a business that started in 1934 when Keith Spicer used a bicycle to deliver the tea he blended at home in Bournemouth.

The commercial department and tea blenders are based in Dorset, but in 2017 Keith Spicer Ltd’s production was centralised in North Shields.

How big is it?

Keith Spicer Ltd had a turnover of £21m in 2019. It estimates that customers have drunk 1.6bn cups of Dorset Tea.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Tea and coffee

Headquartered: Beaminster Business Park

Founded: 1984, by Mike and Lorraine Brehme

Established by a husband and wife team, who sold two chests of Assam tea to local shops and cafes, Clipper Teas became the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company a decade later and arrived in supermarkets in 1996.

Clipper Teas firm in big giveaway

It was bought in 2012 by Royal Wessanen, recently renamed Ecotone. The international company is the biggest company in the B Corp movement, a scheme for accrediting businesses that align profit with purpose.

Dorset-based tea company is doing its bit for the planet

How big is it?

With more than 150 products sold in 50 countries, Clipper Teas says it is the world’s largest producer of Fairtrade tea.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Luxury paint and wallpaper

Headquartered: Uddens Trading Estate, Ferndown

Founded: 1946, by John Farrow and Richard Ball.

Originally based in Verwood, Farrow & Ball made paint for the likes of Ford, Raleigh Bicycles, the Admiralty and the War Office.

It grew rapidly as a provider of traditionally-made paint and luxury wallpaper in the 1990s. A canny use of the web and social media helped turn it into a sought-after brand across much of the world in the 21st century. The year ended March 2020 saw it achieve record revenues.

Saturday Night Live sketch features Farrow & Ball

How big is it?

It sells its products in 60 of its own stores and 1,673 other stockists around the world. Sales in the last financial year reached £87m, while its profile in America was boosted after its paints were chosen for the reopening of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and featured on Saturday Night Live.

Farrow & Ball reveals record sales during coronavirus lockdown

It has two million followers online, a million of them on Instagram.


Bournemouth Echo:


Headquartered: Old Wareham Road, Poole.

Founded: 1989 by Terry Crabb.

Dorset’s alternative to the mighty muesli brand Alpen has been a stablemate of Jordans and Ryvita since 2014, when it was bought by Associated British Foods for a reported £50m.

Dorset Cereals sold in £50million deal

It announced in 2018 that it was quitting its Poundbury base after 18 years and moving to a dedicated part of the Ryvita site in Poole’s Old Wareham Road. It employed 115 people at the time.

Dorset Cereals set to relocate to Poole

How big is it?

As of 2018, Dorset Cereals was making 75 tonnes of cereal a day. Last year, it was the UK’s 16th best-selling cereal brand, with sales of £18m.


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Arts and crafts supplies.

Headquartered: Aviation Park, Bournemouth Airport.

Founded: 1995, by Warren Haskins.

Arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft has done well out of lockdown, reporting last year that online sales tripled amid the pandemic.

Hobbycraft and 4Com among top performing businesses

Founded by garden centre entrepreneur Warren Haskins, it was taken over in 2010 in a management buyout backed by private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital.

How big is it?

Hobbycraft has 90 stores and a rapidly growing online business. Results for the year ending February 2020 showed revenues up 8.9 per cent to £193.6m.

Hobbycraft sees 200 per cent rise in online sales


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Visitor atractions

Headquartered: West Street, Poole

Founded: 1998, by Nick Varney, Andrew Carter and other senior management of Vardon Attractions

Merlin is the world’s second biggest operator of visitor attractions, with a portfolio that includes Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Blackpool Tower and Sea Life.

Merlin Entertainments to stay in Poole after £5.9bn takeover

After years as a public company, it was taken back into private hands in 2019, in a £5.9bn takeover by the family which founded Lego, a private equity giant and a Canadian pension fund.

How big is it?

Merlin’s HQ in Link House on West Street, is the base for an international business whose attractions are spread from Florida to Japan and Malaysia.

Poole's Merlin Entertainments plans new Mythica attraction at Legoland


Bournemouth Echo:


Known for: Fashion

Headquartered: Mercery Road, Weymouth

Founded: 1969, by Tom Singh.

For many years one of Britain’s favourite high street shops, New Look was feeling the squeeze even before Covid devastated bricks and mortar retail.

How big is it? In the year ending March 2020, New Look’s revenue stood at £912.8m. It has 470 stores.

New Look launches major restructuring of finances

It launched a major restructuring of its finances after the impact of the pandemic last year, seeking to cut rents and safeguard 12,000 jobs.