A north Suffolk business which has been in existence for more than two centuries is looking to secure its future.
Henry Watson’s Potteries, a family firm of 213 years, is seeking planning permission from Mid Suffolk District Council to change the nature of business conducted in one of its warehouses at the firm’s HQ in Wattisfield.
Although the building on Pottery Hill has been rented out for the last seven to eight years in a storage capacity, an independent vintage VW camper van refurbishment business is now based there.
A statement submitted with the planning application, said: “Recently our company has diversified to survive and secure jobs, and this change related to importing products.
“The decision was not taken lightly, but rather seen as the way forward to compete with competitors who already import cheaper products.
“In 1986, a warehouse was built on site to accommodate stock to support our operation. Unfortunately, due to operational changes, this has now left us an expensive empty building which has become a huge financial burden.
“Therefore we have looked to create an income from the rental market which, in turn, offers a good modern facility.
“We currently have a tenant who is running a successful business and employing three people.”
Jeremy Watson, the sixth-generation of the Watson family to be involved in the running of the firm, which employs eight people, said it made financial sense to look to get the best possible revenue stream from the vacant site.
Although he noted that it is a tough market, Mr Watson said his firm - which buys in its stock, including the two main brands, Charlotte Watson and Original Suffolk - has a loyal collector base, especially in the kitchenware sector.
He added: “The Internet is an area that has seen tremendous growth, and we are doing well on the exports side, with customers in the US and Russia.
“It is tough, but there is business out there. We have got the long-standing heritage and tradition of the firm on our side, along with the quality of the products we sell.”
The planning permission being sought is aimed at formalising the warehouse’s use; from having storage status, to ‘general industry’ status.
The council plans to have made a decision on the application by the end of October.