06 June 2022, 08:10 AM
  • John Shepherd, managing director of Partridges, discusses the royal connections in the speciality food world
John Shepherd, Partridges: “Royal connections”

By the time you read this article, the Platinum Jubilee Festivities will hopefully have gone very well and we have all had a very enjoyable time celebrating HM the Queen’s tremendous achievement as a Monarch.

However, the Royal Family has also had a notable presence in the world of speciality foods as well. We all recognise the Duchy range, and sustainability initiatives and the farm shops, but there is an area, less recognised, where we interact with another royal initiative that few of us take notice of.

According to the Royal Warrant Holders Association website, there are 118 food and drink companies that hold a Royal Warrant out of 850 Warrants in total. This is a mere fraction of the business community in the UK. Yet some of them are very well known in the speciality food world.

For example, names like Twinings, Walkers, Baxters and Wilkins & Sons have been the backbone of the smaller speciality food shop for generations.

Some of the Royal Warrant Holders have amazing stories too. Angostura Bitters was founded by a revolutionary German doctor in South America. Justerini and Brooks or J&B by a lovelorn Italian young man in pursuit of an opera singer, and closer to home and less dramatically Frank Cooper’s by a grocer in Oxford.

There are many iconic brands that hold a Royal Warrant – Marmite, Schweppes, Lea and Perrins and HP Sauce for example. Somewhat intrigued by this I decided to check how many Royal Warrant brands adorn our shelves in Partridges – my estimate being somewhere in the region of 25. In actual fact it turns out to be over 70! Which is quite convenient as we celebrate her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne.

In truth, having an alcohol license helps to bump up the figure. For example, there are eight champagnes, five whiskies, two gins, two ports, Pimms, Dubonnet and certainly one brandy on the list of Warrant Holders.

There are also some large companies too such as Nestles, Britvic, Hellman’s, Colmans, Heinz and Weetabix. But smaller companies hold their own too such as Rhug Estate, Musk’s, Maldon Sea Salt, Montmartre Patisserie, Denhay and Baxter’s Potted Shrimps. How much these 70 products contribute to the overall sales mix I have not calculated, but they would certainly be regarded as indispensable by many of our customers and visitors.

In 1994 we were very fortunate to have been granted a Royal Warrant by HM the Queen and it has been a very helpful and pleasant benefit in many ways. Helpful because of the Sustainability Audits we carry out every few years and the access to training it brings and also the influence on our small export trade. Pleasant for social reasons and the opportunity to support various charities.

So over the Platinum Jubilee weekend, I will be raising a glass or two to Her Majesty. Make mine a Big Tom with Tabasco followed by a swig of just one of the eight Champagnes and a Walker’s Biscuit.

God Save the Queen and cheers!