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Costs of Brexit

Although we don’t import directly, all the oils we use (coconut, castor and sustainable palm) are commodities which are traded worldwide in US dollars.  After the vote on 23rd June 2016, the pound dropped in value and nearly all our costs went up. We hoped, of course (like everybody), that this would be a temporary state of affairs, but 10 months later we are still in the same situation. So as our costs go up, so does the pressure on our finances. This year we will have to raise prices to our customers, who will not be happy, and maybe retail prices will go up. I doubt an increase in glycerine soap prices will make the headlines, but I am sure we are not the only SMCG manufacturer in this situation, so there will be supermarket price increases and the consumer will have to bear the brunt. I don’t remember  if this was well articulated in the pre-vote arguments, but this will be one of the many consequences of the decision

My happy place

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We can wrap presents!

Add gift wrapping to your order! We source a range of attractive non-specific wrapping papers which we can use to turn our boringly functional cardboard soap cartons into beautifully wrapped presents. Of course, we can also tailor the paper according to the event, so if you prefer us to use a festive style, please let us know. Just add the giftwrap option to your basket and we will do the rest.

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It’s Just Historical

Look what we found! This must be from the early fifties although there’s no date on it. When we first produced PC49 the retail price was  1s/3d, which is what it says here and that was in 1950 when you also had to use a ration coupon.

PC49, and our othr figures soaps were made with a special fragrance (and soap) called Tah. We bought soap noodles (raw soap supplied in sacks) from Lever Bros. (as they were then) and milled the soap before cutting into billets and stamping in our special moulds

Quite a few of the figure soaps had glass eyes. I don’t think we’d get away with that today!  However, you can still get a safe gold paint, so if we ever wanted to make PC49 again, (who had gold buttons and helmet crest), the painting would be the least of our problems.

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FCL!!

It’s not often we ship a full container, but eighteen pallets means a full container load and today is the day. The driver arrives, we have three hours to load and then it’s off on its travels. Luckily the street is pretty empty today! Incidentally, this is not an April fool. Not only is my photoshopping ability at a basic level, it’s also not funny.

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DROYT in Russia (a short history with pictures)

Dachas in the modern Russian Countryside

DANISCHEWSKY FAMILY

Pavel Danischewsky was the grandson of the original founders and the man who brought the soap company to England after leaving Berlin in the late 1930’s. During his life he witnessed many remarkable things. He was an inveterate story teller. I was lucky enough to hear a few and I remembered one the other day when the subject of ‘dacha’s came up. These were the summer houses that initially wealthy and subsequently ordinary Russians would have to escape from the city at the weekends in order to grow food and to breathe the country air.

PAVEL SMOKES TURKISH

The story is that while the family were escaping from Russia after losing their factory to the Bolsheviks, they spent some time in a dacha outside Moscow, before they could travel on to Berlin. Papa Danischewsky expressly forebade the young Pavel (who was a teenager at this time) from straying too far from the hideout as they were trying to keep a low profile.  In this time of uncertainty, many dachas lay empty or abandoned as their owners stayed away or had ‘disappeared’. Pavel, being adventurous, instantly started exploring these properties and seeing what he could find. It appears he found some quite useful stuff but how that made it’s way back into the household without his father getting wind of it, I’m not sure. Anyway, one of the items of contraband he uncovered was a stash of Turkish cigarettes, which obviously he started smoking, and probably contributed to his lifetime habit. He said he felt bad though, not because he was defying his father, but that he couldn’t offer him any, as his dad liked to smoke and was reduced to making his own homemade cigarettes using dried leaves and  cones of newspaper.

Just to put this era into context, one of the events Pavel witnessed was  a rally with speeches by Leon Trotsky and VI Lenin.
Photo of a Communist rally in winter in Moscow

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USB and USP

To UCLAN and a talk about Droyt’s and international trade to the International Business students. There is isn’t so much to say on the subject these days. In the past we exported about 60% of turnover, but now the figure is more like 25%, although indirectly that will be higher because we make soap for other companies who then export.The lecture theatre was very well equipped with a huge AV screen. There was a brief panic when my presentation, saved on a USB stick came on screen with all the photos corrupted. I was preparing to preface each slide with ‘What you should be seeing here..’ but then remembered that the file was backed up on my phone. So, good commuter that I am, I had in my bag the relevant USB connector cable and once the appropriate handshaking happened, the uncorrupted file loaded up fine. Isn’t technology quite good?

It’s always pleasant to talk on and on about something one knows a lot about to a captive audience. The students were very polite and avoided any obvious displays of boredom. They also put me on the spot with some very astute questions, while also managing to avoid focussing too much on the failings of our marketing program. I’m looking forward to seeing their suggestions!

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Wheels off at Droyt’s

So we have a load of old stuff in the factory. In fact let us call it ‘Heritage’ equipment. Sounds much more valuable. A lot of this stuff was built in the days when obsolescence was a dirty word and when over-engineering was the same as engineering. Why make something extra light and manoeuvrable when the simple addition of some extra steel would make it extra strong and require only three or four extra people to move it? One of these things is the large steel frame we use to pour the hot liquid soap in once it’s made.

These are VERY HEAVY as you can imagine, even more so when they’ve got a tonne of soap inside. So the wheels are like ancient cast iron things which are at least 60 years old. And one broke! While the soap was being rolled into the cutting area! The cutting area is a part of the manufacturing area where the soap is cut up. It’s not officially called the cutting area, but I am just calling it that to differentiate it from any other area of the factory and also to explain why the soap was being moved. And also to add dramatic tension. So the wheel breaks in two as if cleaved by a hefty blow from Mjolnir.  Unlikely in downtown Chorley on a Wednesday afternoon, I grant you, but  these things are really tough and would be really  hard to break on purpose. Apparently we’ve had trouble with that one before. About 25 years ago.  So the whole thing tips to the side and becomes an immovable object.

Well, we managed to save it. With the fork lift truck, a pallet truck and some blocks of wood, we moved the whole thing a few metres to the appropriate area for cutting (the cutting area), although with the wrong orientation so cutting had to occur ninety degrees to normal, which is unheard of and also which may have affected the feng shui. Can you test soap for that? Anyway, the point to the story is that you think ‘Old cast iron wheel? How are we going to  get another one of the those?’. Well as it turns out, you can buy them. On the net. A quick google, some informed discussion (informed, that is, by the discussees, rather than the discussor), and we are now the proud owner of two brand new cast iron wheels, now improved with a polyurethane tyre for extra something. They are being fitted as I type and I expect the next time that frame is used, the whole batch of soap can be moved around with the push of a finger. That might be a little unlikely, but the new wheels certainly look good. If they last 60 years, then that will be even better.