English Soap Company
High quality and locally sourced ingredients are key to success.
From kitchen company to global brand; The English Soap Company has undergone significant growth in its 22-year history. See how Lloyds Bank has supported their expansion and diversification journey.
Since its inception in 2000, The English Soap Company has evolved and grown significantly. However, it remains true to its original mission – creating high quality toiletries with locally-sourced ingredients.
Bob and Juliet Butts were inspired to start the company when they discovered some vintage soap moulds in a machinery workshop farm in Kent. They started their journey to create the perfect bar of soap at their kitchen table, before selling their previous business and using the proceeds to invest in equipment and premises.
The company initially found success as a contract manufacturer, however, there were always ambitions to launch as a brand.
Diversifying for success
When Bob and Juliet’s son Oliver took over as Managing Director in 2016, the company was turning a profit, however, a strong reliance on a couple of key clients meant some changes were necessary to ensure future stability.
“At that point we decided to take a step back and start focusing on creating our own brand, which had always been my dad’s dream,” says Oliver.
“And that’s been our focus for the past decade or so. The business has grown from a turnover of around £800,000 to £4 million and we’ve cultivated a really diverse client base. We work with some household names like Kew Gardens, Disney and National Trust, but also smaller independent retailers and a lot of international companies.
“We’ve also branched out into other products beyond soap – we create hand creams, handwashes and most recently hand sanitisers.”
“Our expansion in recent years has meant we’ve needed financial support,” says Oliver. “And Lloyds Bank has been great. Increasing the scale of our production and bringing new products to market has meant we’ve needed lots of new equipment, and Asset Finance has been perfect for supporting our growth without having to take a hit to our cash flow.
“Investing in new machinery which automates a lot of our processes has allowed us to become much more competitive and enabled us to sell on a global scale.
“We’ve also taken out loans to support with product development and to enable us to expand our warehouses, for example.
“We’ve found that the team at Lloyds Bank really understand our business and the market conditions we’re facing and are keen to help us find the solutions we need to succeed. They’ve helped us balance our cash flow during a period of intensive growth and against a backdrop of ongoing supply chain issues.”
One of the key selling points for The English Soap Company is its English heritage and today the products are still all made in Sussex, using local ingredients where possible.
“We get 99% of our fragrances from a company that’s just 15 miles away,” says Oliver. “And all our paper wraps come from East Sussex too. We’re lucky to have such great producers on our doorstep and using them makes sense. Not only does it support our local economy, it also helps us lower our carbon footprint and ensures our product stands out in the marketplace.”
Looking to the future
Further growth is on the cards for The English Soap Company, with a new warehouse being built which will allow the company to level-up production.
“We’re investing in improving our infrastructure and processes and ensuring we’re working in the best way for a successful future,” says Oliver. “There’s a huge demand for our product and we want to be able to keep growing in the right way.”