Company profile: Original BTC

A father and son team are helping build their company into a very British group of manufacturers

By Sarah Brownlee
Bowles & Bowles - Peter and Charlie Bowles 2 - Portrait_300SCP, Liberty, The Conran Shop, Heal’s and John Lewis are just a few of the top-name retailers to be seduced by the charms of the Original BTC group, and the six successful product brands to its name and counting…

Company founder Peter Bowles has become somewhat of a hero (if a very modest one) of British manufacturing, saving and rejuvenating some struggling but still brilliant heritage brands as well as designing his own original products. These achievements, and those of his son Charlie who joined the company in 2009, have not gone unnoticed, however, as Original BTC is the first winner of Elle Decoration’s Made In the UK award, which came as a ‘complete surprise’ to Bowles. Although, no company could be more deserving.

Davey Lighting - Diner 125 pendant - 7632 BR - lifestyle - Portrait_300Bowles started his business in Oxford in 1990, specialising in lighting manufacture. And while continuing mostly on the lighting theme, he moved into furniture production with the launch of the Bowles & Bowles brand in 2010 and more recently tableware after buying English Antique Glass (the UK’s last maker of flat glass) and Branksome China earlier this year.

The first (unplanned) rescue mission took place in 2002 when Bowles transformed the fortunes of a ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent by turning it into a producer of bone china light fittings. The acquisition of Davey Lighting (a marine lighting company established in the 1880s in East India Docks) came next but the most significant purchase was arguably that of a Birmingham-based steelworks, so determined was Bowles to keep the production of all their lighting components in the UK.

Branksome China - Teapot, coffee pot, espresso cup & saucer, plates - Jet Black & Forest Green, Queens Blue - shelves lifestyle - Portrait_300Earlier this year the company acquired Oxford-based LED lighting manufacturer Beadlight and yet it seems there’s still plenty of room under the Original BTC group umbrella. ‘This year was meant to be one of consolidation for us – no expansion or acquisitions,’ says Peter Bowles, ‘but that seems to go out of the window if there’s an opportunity or something that we think we should be doing rather than seeing something lost that we think could work for us.’ A recent meeting with son Charlie to discuss their five-year plan saw them both in ‘expansive mood’, adds Bowles.

Plans afoot include the launch of a complete range of glass lighting, a new London office, a showroom in Paris and an increased presence in the US. Bowles estimates that up to 50% of the company’s current turnover comes from the contract business and this is an area also marked out for further development. ‘We’re very much wanting to push on,’ Bowles concludes. He’s not kidding.

Bowles & Bowles - Mesh locker, treble unit - kitchen storage lifestyle - Portrait_300Trade secrets:

Bestselling products (contract business):
Original BTC Task lights and Hector wall lights
Beadlight lights

Discounts for contract buyers

Point of contact:

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