Shearer Candles refused to be restrained by their geography almost from day one. Now a major local employer, owner Ian Barnet explains the value of exporting to them.
This 'Around the World in 80 Trades' feature coincides with the annual HSBC Scottish Export Awards in association with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is being held on 22 March in Glasgow. For information on the event, to nominate or to buy tickets, click here.
Founded in 1897 by Mr Shearer and Mr Harvey on the outskirts of Glasgow, Shearer Candles is the UK's longest established lifestyle candle company, manufacturing candles, scented candles and diffusers, and selling them both to trade and to the public, in their store and online.
Messrs Shearer and Harvey had worked as chandlers in the Candleriggs district, historically the heart of candle making. At that time, customers still bought their ingredients before the candles were made to order.
“We’ve been exporting for over 100 years,” says Ian Barnet current owner, “to markets including Europe, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa, Slovenia, Lebanon, Dubai, Kuwait, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Malta, USA, South Korea, and Nigeria.”
That’s a lot of candles! “It can take a number of years from first contact to supply,” he adds, but he says that the success that comes with it – and, of course, the profit – makes it worthwhile.
Throughout its long history the business has always been family run. When the last of the Shearers retired in 1972 the present owners, the Barnet family, took over and is now in its third generation. While much has changed, the artisanal approach, attention to detail and craftsmanship first pioneered by Mr Shearer and Mr Harvey still underpin everything they do.
“The internet makes showcasing our product ranges for interested customers really easy,” Ian points out, “but that doesn’t mean some parts aren’t hard. Exchange rates, all of the documentation you need, and sometimes the communication can be challenging.
“We have received fantastic support from Scottish Enterprise, namely in Trade Show Funding and the appointment of an export consultant who did quite a lot of research into Euro markets.”
Ian is passionate about the growth exporting has caused in his business: “It has helped us spread the sales activity load over different time periods and geo locations. Success is attributed to the quality of our product and our heritage.”
Looking to the future, Shearer Candles have no plans to slow. “We are exploring our growth into consumer markets, English speaking countries and heavily online.
“And in the next five years – a bigger, more profitable enterprise working toward a Shearer brand becoming a household name.”