I was recently invited to visit a company called WrightBower, a leather goods manufacturer straddling the Manchester/Salford border just a short walk away from the “glitz and clamour” (that’s not a spelling mistake) of Deansgate. Its owner, Michael, had asked me if I would like to tour the factory and take a look at a new range of “Made in Manchester, England” branded leather goods he was launching. I was curious to see how a local manufacturer, established since 1976, had managed to stay the course when many others had tried and failed.
The factory itself is not some soulless, hi-tech haven of shiny machines and glorified button pressers (not an industry term by the way, it means what it says). It is spread out over several railway arches and you can see the manufacturing process laid out before you eyes. Numerous product lines making various high end leather goods, many under license from major brands, fill the space along with stacks of raw materials waiting to be transformed. There are machines to press, cut and slice the leather but many of them are there to facilitate that hand made ethos that WrightBower is so rightly proud of.
According to Michael the success of WrightBower is first and foremost down to the quality of the finished product. But it’s interesting to hear Michael talk about the fact that his company has had to tread a fine line between being able to make relatively large quantities of leather goods to a high standard and maintaining the essential hand made element of the process. Many of his fifteen staff have been with him for a long time and have learnt their skills on the job. He has also sought out people who can pass on the art of “hand made” to others. Much of the work is intricate and time consuming. The raw materials are sourced locally and he pays more for that. Without a doubt his staff are essential to the success of the business although Michael struggles to get young people to show an interest in a career in manufacturing. He does outreach with various colleges in order to drum up an interest but with mixed results. From what I saw, the general atmosphere around the factory was pretty easy going, lots of smiles, people working away, in it together. A lesson to many in terms of the working environment. Just saying..
Although WrightBower have a long and successful history of manufacturing a varied range of high end leather goods for a number of well known brands they have recently launched a couple of lines under the WrightBower brand. Integral to these products is the “Made in Manchester, England” branding which is prominent on them. A proud acknowledgement to the City that has been a major part of the WrightBower story and a nod to the fact that all the materials used are sourced in England.
The Linteum collection of handmade cotton canvas and naturally tanned leather bags have genuine ash or walnut hardwood fittings. The Corium collection of handmade wallets and purses are made from English bridle leather and are available in brown, black and red.
Approximate Size : 29cm (h) x 39cm (w) x 9cm
- Large satchel ideal for work and sports gear
- Quick open and close flap with heavy duty press stud straps
- Fixed adjustable shoulder strap
- Four internal pockets, perfect for laptop, smartphone etc.
- Genuine British Walnut hardwood fittings – hand finished an doiled
- Cotton canvas – hand dyed and finished in Manchester
- Naturally tanned saddle leather
- 100% manufactured in England
I love the individuality of the bags. The ash and walnut fittings really stand out and the quality of the product is without question. Although the Manchester connection appeals to me (no surprise there) WrightBower are a shining light at a time when manufacturing in the UK is in the spotlight. Why try and compete with companies on the other side of the world who have lower costs across the board. Stick to your principles, build your skills base, use high quality materials and be proud of your heritage.
WrightBower, Made in Manchester, available to the world.
For more information on WrightBower and it range of high quality leather goods please visit their website.
This is NOT a sponsored post. My thanks to Michael for his time & hospitality.