90 years and still going strong for Shropshire-based Merrythought

Britain’s oldest remaining teddy bear manufacturer is celebrating nine decades of business in 2020 with the launch of a limited-edition bear to kick off its 90th year.

A special bear, of which only 300 will be available, will celebrate Merrythought’s 90th anniversary
A special bear, of which only 300 will be available, will celebrate Merrythought’s 90th anniversary

Shropshire-based Merrythought, which still hand-makes each teddy bear in the same factory in Ironbridge where it first opened its doors in September 1930, is starting the landmark year by releasing a unique 90th Anniversary Commemorative Teddy Bear. 

As well as the limited-edition teddy bear, managing director Sarah Holmes, great granddaughter of Merrythought founder Gordon Holmes, is also planning an unforgettable year of high-profile collaborations, new and innovative initiatives and celebrations to mark the milestone.

“2020 is a hugely exciting year for us as a business, not only are we celebrating the 90th anniversary but we’re also planning to expand into several new overseas markets, including Asia and the US. 

“Closer to home, we’re holding a specialist collectors’ event in September for our keen Merrythought fans and a teddy bear’s picnic for local school children in Ironbridge in the summer.” 

The special bear, of which only 300 will be available, blends together the ruby (40th) and golden (50th) anniversary year colours throughout its design and has Merrythought’s 90th anniversary logo embroidered onto its left paw.   

Sarah, who last year welcomed a fifth generation to the family firm when she celebrated the arrival of her son Rollo, said the company had remained true to its origins by continuing to make bears by hand as part of a skilled, 15-stage process. 

“Our teddy bears are still produced by hand in almost the same way that they were when my great-grandfather started the company all those years ago, and that’s a key reason that our bears have stood the test of time – and continue to do so,” said Sarah. 

The firm has worked with many other leading British brands on some highly successful collaborations over the years. 

It has supplied several royal babies and famous children with bears, and has worked with high profile brands such as Mulberry; Burberry; British Airways; and the Savoy Hotel, whilst also collaborating with a number of charities. These currently include the Childrens Air Ambulance and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust  – each of which have a teddy bear that raises funds for their very worthwhile causes.

This year Merrythought will collaborate with a leading armed forces charity to release a commemorative bear to help raise funds and to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

“We are so excited to be celebrating our 90th year and feel immensely proud that we are doing so right here in the same factory where Merrythought first opened,” added Sarah.

“I doubt there are many British manufacturers who could boast the same rich heritage that we have here.

“Merrythought is a legacy that has survived generation after generation, and I am proud that the company continues to hand-make the finest quality teddy bears here in Britain as it reaches 90 years in business.”  

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