Chinese take a shine to fine china from UK

Updated: 2013-08-12 10:00

By Zhang Chunyan and Susanna Ma in London (China Daily)

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Sales of tableware continue to grow because the Chinese are discovering the wide range of Western cuisine available, Willis says.

Analysts say another important reason is the penchant of China's sophisticated middle class for brands from the West.

They have "an appreciation for high quality English luxury brands", Roberts says.

Bone china, which originated in Britain, is different from china. Bone china, says Wikipedia, quoting the Dictionary of Ceramics, is a type of soft-paste porcelain that is composed of bone ash, feldspathic material and kaolin. "It has been defined as ware with a translucent body containing a minimum of 30 percent of phosphate derived from animal bone and calculated calcium phosphate."

Bone china is renowned for its whiteness and translucence, strength and resistance to chipping, Wikipedia adds, quoting a work on Asian ceramics.

"We have a growing number of Chinese customers who love authentically English products," Roberts says.

Willis says middle- and upper-class Chinese are starting to appreciate quality and the tradition of Royal Crown Derby, which goes back more than 250 years.

With ceramics being such an important part of Chinese culture, Willis says: "We are targeting those customers who can appreciate the quality of what we design and create."

A lot of the marketing focuses on the company's history and craftsmanship as well as links to the British royal family.

"The royal events of the past few years have provided us with the platforms to showcase this relationship," Willis says.

Hua Zong, a popular micro-blogger on China's Sina Weibo, says there are two types of bone china buyers in China: china lovers, who usually spend time researching various brands, and high-spending buyers, who are unaware of the cultural connotations.

For all the buyers, British bone china brands are very attractive, while Chinese bone china has not gained recognition.

However, Chinese companies can also produce fine bone china now, he says, citing companies in Tangshan, Hebei province. But when it comes to the design, there is a huge gap between China's bone china and Britain's.

Roberts says Wedgwood epitomizes English elegance, something that is attractive to the Chinese.

"Our products are distinctly English, high quality and combine English heritage with modern design. While our business has always been founded on chinaware, we are moving toward becoming a leading home and luxury lifestyle brand not just in tabletop but in the gifting and home decor sectors through our product innovation and design excellence."

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