Merrythought | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

Merrythought Limited – Third Cohort Export Champion


Finest traditional teddy bears

Location: Shropshire
Company website:
Sectors: Manufacturing

Merrythought is a fourth-generation family business that manufactures the finest traditional teddy bears, each of which is hand-made in their original Shropshire factory. Dating back to 1930, Merrythought is now the last remaining British teddy bear manufacturer – using traditional craftsmanship and high quality natural materials, most significantly mohair plush, to create its luxury bears.

The company supplies independent toy and teddy bear shops across the UK, as well as high end department stores including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Fenwick and John Lewis. It also designs and produces bespoke bears for various luxury brands and specialist retailers, such as The Royal Collection, Burberry and Turnbull & Asser.

Merrythought dispatches across the world via its website, and holds a small number of direct stockist accounts in Australia and other export countries. They design and produce their own collections, which include limited editions aimed at collectors, and classical mohair teddy bears which appeal to the wider public.

CommonwealthFirst looks forward to supporting Merrythought with introductions to distributors, assistance with entering new markets and brand collaborations across the Commonwealth network.


Apply now to become an Export Champion.

Sarah Holmes, Director

How did the idea for your business come about?
Business already established – founded in 1930 by Great Grandfather

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Production capacity and allocation of other resources/time
Product compliance and labelling requirements
Ensuring landed price competitiveness – shipping and duty costs
Intellectual property protection

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Invested in and improved internal systems and procedures
Improve product design and narrowed product ranges
Streamlined supply chain
Investment in PR and Social Media
Developed a corporate and bespoke service

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
A friend based in Singapore

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Distributor introductions
Expand business in Australia
New opportunities for our bespoke business

What is a typical working day for you?
There isn’t one! Mix of Director level decision making and implementation for both office and factory operations, alongside high level account management and Sales & Marketing.

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
£3m TO +. Increased export business in major developed countries, increased retail business (online), and growth in bespoke service.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
I’ve yet to start up a business myself, but have taken on an underperforming SME and improved it:
Believe in, and be passionate about your product
Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to something that isn’t right for your company, even if it might mean turning away a piece of business
Employ the best people you can afford
Expect to work hard!

This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.