Thomas Goode & Co., one of the oldest ‘Royal Warrant’ holders, is a supplier of fine tableware, cutlery for the House of Windsor and its new owner sees value in this heritage. Image Credit: Thomas Goode


When planning a global expansion, it helps to drop a hint that your brand has also served British Royalty. In the case of Thomas Goode & Co., quite literally so.

One of the oldest “Royal Warrant” holders, the firm has been a supplier of fine tableware and cutlery for the House of Windsor for some time. Now, its new owner wants to leverage that heritage.

“The figures for the last few years have seen sales of £5 million (Dh24.3 million) — this turnover is too small for a world-class brand, especially with an expensive store to manage in Mayfair,” said Johnny Sandelson, a London-based entrepreneur who acquired the 200-year old Thomas Goode & Co. last month. “We are investing £5 million into the business (and) have a careful and well-thought out plan to expand our global presence and an eCommerce platform.”

 We can never take a Royal Warrant for granted. Although TG & Co. has served royal households... we need appraised and evaluated to be granted this.”

 - Johnny Sandelson | Entrepreneur 

That means getting onto the diner tables of the rich and privileged in India — through a store and a museum at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai — and then next year open up a presence in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. But in keeping with the brand’s profile, new retail openings will be selective.

“(These will be) directly owned; we will have strong local retail partners, but want to keep direct control on supply lines and distribution,” said Sandelson, who is also owner of the British Art fair and co-founder of Auriens, a developer of homes for the “affluent elderly” in London.

“All luxury retailers need to stand out in an increasingly sceptical marketplace. Thomas Goode and Co. is a curator and purveyor of quality produce for the home. The Royal Warrant demonstrates that we are a British brand and work to the highest possible standards.”

In the recent past, Britain’s heritage — and especially those connected with its royalty — have had a surge in interest ... and not just limited to popular TV shows such as ‘The Crown’. The Abu Dhabi based Lulu Group acquired a stake in the East India Co. in late 2014, for $82 million (Dh301 million).

East India Co. had a Royal Charter issued to it by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1600. Of particular interest for Lulu was East India Co.’s fine foods division, known for its tea and more exotic offerings. Lulu — which later raised its shareholding in the enterprise — then drew up plans for the luxury brand’s expansion into new territories.

According to Sandelson, there is value to be had from heritage. There is “a lot of pressure on mid-range consumer goods through Amazon and Alibaba. But luxury retail will be robust — but it will need to concentrate on certain traits,” he said. “Firstly, a great personal shopping experience, then for the customer to witness the particular artisan skills, and, finally, a demonstration of an authentic supply chain of raw produce.

“We can never take a Royal Warrant for granted. Although TG & Co. has served royal households for generations, we do need to constantly be appraised and evaluated to be granted this.”

Post the acquisition, will the firm consider new suppliers or stick with the tried and trusted? “We are presently evaluating all our relationships,” said Sandelson. “As part of our heritage, it’s very important we keep strong relationships with British designers and manufacturers. But we can explore working in collaboration with new partners.”

That might work as the brand targets a younger client profile to what it has on its books now. Will British heritage score with these potential buyers as well? “We hope so,” Sandelson added.

What a Royal Charter means

A British Royal Warrant is issued to businesses and “tradespeople” that supply goods and services to the Royal Family.

These are now issued by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

The recipients can advertise the fact that they have the Royal Warrant.