I saw an interesting article in the Guardian last week on the work of new designers in ceramics and a project supported by Staffs University called Flux to quote from the article
“A ground-breaking commercial collaboration between postgraduate design students at Staffordshire University and local industry has led to Stoke-on-Trent once again appearing on a new range of bone chinaware. The students have not only benefited from the kudos of helping to design it, but stand to receive a 4% royalty on sales and the chance to get involved in the commercial side of the venture.
The new brand is called Flux and its contemporary “mix and match” style reflects the current trend for affordable “chic informality” in home dining, which has replaced the full dinner service culture of past decades. Think spots, stripes, flowers and even buildings and giant letters in different typefaces with names like “Splat”, “Geometrix” and “Zoo”. The designs are deliberately complementary and intriguingly interchangeable.
The project was set up last year within Staffs university’s Faculty of Arts, Media and Design by Professor David Sanderson, director of its MA ceramic design course, with £20,000 funding from Higher Education Innovation Fund
The idea is simple ““ plain white bone china already made in Stoke-on-Trent is decorated with the 12 designs in the range. Sales ““ and 96% are to export markets ““ have been mainly through international trade fairs. Buyers from China, Hong Kong, Venezuela and Russia have snapped up the designs, with the “bling factor” of the cobalt and gold combination particularly popular.
Production costs have been kept down by using basic, simple shapes already being manufactured, and a move into matching glassware, using stencils of the same designs, is possible.
Students have benefited from the chance to sell their work internationally and get experience of sales and marketing at a time when factory closures mean there are limited opportunities to get hands-on experience at local level”
I thought what an interesting idea and what great possibilities to develop the Spode site instead of the usual supermarkets plan which seems to be the only idea that the City Council are pushing with at the moment
The problem with Tesco on the Spode site. Well I will list just a few.
It is perhaps important for the naysayers to the Tesco plans to counter some of the arguments advanced by the Council. Chief amongst them is the jobs argument
Will the supermarket developments lead to more jobs? On the face of it this looks like a no brainer, of course it will
However I think there are some questions that need to be raised
Supermarket companies claim that all these impacts should be overlooked because they are providing jobs for local people. Supermarkets have been using this argument to gain planning permission for so-called regeneration sites ““ putting up large superstores on brownfield sites. Any opposition to the new store can be quickly overcome by the promise of jobs in areas where they may be very hard to come by. For those people who do escape long-term employment for a job at a new superstore there is no doubt this must be beneficial, but the question is whether there are wider costs.
Do the supermarkets really provide extra jobs?
Supermarkets usually herald plans for new superstores with the claim that they will bring hundreds of new jobs. Considering how many new stores have been opened, this should add up to a significant increase in employment nationally. But the figures don’t add up. Supermarkets are very efficient companies, particularly when it comes to the productivity of their staff. One study, which compared national retail employment between 1991 and 1995 against employment claims made by the supermarkets noted that while grocery retail sales grew in that period by 12.3 per cent, grocery retail employment did not grow by the same amount ““ just 2.7 per cent growth
.So while the businesses grow, numbers of staff do not grow as fast. As the author of the study commented, the “extra jobs have simply evaporated in the competitive process”.
Another way to look at this question would be to consider how many people would be employed if grocery sales were not dominated by supermarkets, but were instead in the hands of smaller grocery stores. In 2004, small grocery shops had a total turnover of around £21 billion and employed more than 500,000 people. The big supermarket chains in that year have much bigger sales (Tesco alone has a turnover of £29 billion) yet they only employ around 770,000 people. So the supermarket chains control more than 80% of the grocery market and yet they employ only 50% more staff than small shops. The simple conclusion is that small shops are better for employment than having a superstore.
Any council wanting to increase local employment would be better off encouraging new local businesses and tourism than trying to attract a supermarket .
If one is looking to test this hypothesis look at how the present Sainsbury’s development in the centre of Stoke has had an impact upon local shops. Sainsbury’s may have been put on the Minton Pottery site by offering a package that regenerates the town, but the reality is somewhat different.