Stoke & Staffordshire

Royal baby: Manufacturers start work on souvenirs

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Media caption2012 has been a boom year for royal souvenirs

News of the royal pregnancy is set to spark a wave of souvenir manufacturing, industry experts have said.

Sales of Jubilee and London 2012 memorabilia have injected more than £300m into the UK economy, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

It said £199m was spent on 2011 royal wedding souvenirs and a baby could prove almost as popular.

The Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy was announced on Monday after she was diagnosed with acute morning sickness.

She is thought to be less than 12 weeks pregnant and is expected to remain at King Edward VII hospital in central London for several days.

Less than 24 hours after the pregnancy was announced, a Staffordshire pottery firm said it was already starting work on a commemorative mug.

The Emma Bridgewater firm, in Stoke-on-Trent, started to produce the blue, red and white mugs, which say, "A royal baby in 2013", on Tuesday morning.

The company said it also planned to produce another with the baby's name to mark the birth.

American market

Stoke-on-Trent Tableware company Churchill China and ceramic art firm Anita Harris Pottery said they were also planning to produce commemorative ranges.

Dr Laura Cohen, from the British Ceramic Confederation, said she expected more companies to follow suit.

Image caption Sales of royal wedding merchandise are estimated to have contributed about £200m to the UK economy

She said: "Sales for pottery companies have consolidated in the past year because of events like the Jubilee and the Olympics and I'm sure this will increase sales for next year.

"People will want family heirlooms and I'm sure there's also a massive export market, particularly in America."

Head of manufacturing at Emma Bridgewater, Mark Thomas, said its design was able to be produced so quickly because it incorporated many of the sponges and colours used in the company's other products.

He said: "Our royal wedding and Jubilee sales were significant so we know there is a market for this.

"It's also apparent from the media coverage over the last 24 hours that the American market will be strong too, so we're hoping this will help us move more sales into the United States."

'Something to look forward to'

The firm said it sold £3.2m worth of commemorative ceramic ware for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and £1m worth for the wedding of the duke and duchess.

Diane Donohue, 64, who has more than 100 royal items including mugs and tea towels, said she thought souvenirs related to the baby would be "just as popular" as royal wedding merchandise.

Mrs Donohue, of Leek, Staffordshire, camped out for three nights opposite the west door of Westminster Abbey before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding.

The mother of two said: "At the minute because of the economic climate, it [the birth] will be something to look forward to.

"Everybody's really looking forward to it now all over the world.

"As soon as we know what the name is, then I'll be buying something - a nice china mug, hopefully."

Prof Joshua Bamfield, from the Centre for Retail Research, said the duke and duchess's international popularity meant international sales could be more important than domestic ones.

However, he said merchandising could be more low key, partly because of the uncertainties around pregnancy, particularly because an exact date could not be set, unlike a wedding or the Diamond Jubilee.

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