Gawith Hoggarth

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Gawith Hoggarth is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Director Chris Gawith
Original Navy Flake packaging
found in the original Samuel
Gawith ‘Brown House’ factory
Gawith Hoggarth have been producing high-quality
tobacco products since the 18th century. From their
early days of producing snuff, used as a staple down
the mines, in more recent times the business has been forced
to adapt to consumer demands and government constraints to
become the last standing manufacturer of smoking tobacco in
the UK. A family business based in Kendal, Cumbria, the Gawith
family have been producing luxury tobacco for over 220 years.
Directors Chris and Irene Gawith tell the
“We are the only” is a claim that very few businesses have the pleasure of boasting
about – especially so when the odds are very much not in your favour. In spite of
the challenges we have faced, it feels like our business has a certain place in the
world, having witnessed history and faced all the challenges associated with the
political and social economics of the past two centuries.
A family business with a difference
Despite the constant challenges passed down to our business one statute at
a time, Gawith Hoggarth produces tobacco like most have never seen before.
Thick blankets of pipe tobacco are scrutinised by our master blender for stalks
and imperfections as it flows off conveyors. In the Twist room, highly skilled staff
create lengths of tobacco rope, one leaf at a time, which is knotted into a ball
»Directors: Irene Gawith and
Chris Gawith
»Founded in 1792
»Based in Kendal, Cumbria
»Services: Manufacture of
tobacco products
»No. of employees: 35
Gawith Hoggarth
Highlighting best practice
that would not look out of place in
any living room. Even non-smokers
who experience the sweet aroma
of unburnt tobacco and witness
the weird and wonderful forms our
products exhibit tend to leave with a
renewed understanding of smoking
for pleasure. Our company is not in the
business of providing a ‘nicotine fix’,
but rather a smoking pleasure akin to
the enjoyment of fine whisky or indeed
a Cuban cigar.
Expectedly difficult times in
the tobacco industry
With the introduction of new EU
legislation and a diminishing public
opinion of tobacco around the globe,
this isn’t an industry that retains
the sophistication of other socially
problematic industries such as alcohol.
In many ways, the tobacco industry
has become a scapegoat for the
electorate’s addictive personality.
While the pipe-smoker sits quietly
enjoying the ambience of a bowl of
Cherry Vanilla, large swathes of the
population are destined for A&E having
consumed cheap alcohol to excess. It is
hard to dispute the disproportionality
between tobacco and alcohol in terms
of socio-economics. Yet somehow
it feels unrealistic to suggest that
governments will ever play fair on the
rules surrounding addictive substances
such as tobacco and alcohol. Even
more surprising is the continual
relaxation of cannabis laws around the
world in the face of tighter controls on
tobacco. Or is this simply proof that
the fashion of public opinion, coupled
with excise duties, overshadow political
and economic commonsense?
For a traditional, small company
such as Gawith Hoggarth, the extra
restrictions on tobacco production and
movement specified in the Tobacco
Products Directive (2019) impose an
additional £350,000 of operating
costs. This is a cost that will certainly
contribute to the collapse of many
small tobacco businesses across Europe
in 2024, upon full implementation of
this specific directive. Much of this cost
is born from the limitations of existing
logistics companies for which the
complexity of this legislation outweighs
Ball of twist tobacco Flake tobacco
tobacco like
most have
never seen
any commercial reasoning. But when
business is faced with a challenge, it
must look for the advantage. Gawith
Hoggarth is determined to do exactly
this and continue to face up to the
challenges – as it has done for over
250 years.
The challenge of Covid-19 has been
no exception. Plans that had been in
the pipeline for systems development
have been dropped and, instead,
implemented within weeks, not
months. The need for better ways
of working have become necessity
and not desire. The belief that ‘what
doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ has
never been as striking as it is right
now, and this is surely a salute to all
small businesses that feel they have
gone to war during 2020. It is with
great pride I can say Gawith Hoggarth
has weathered the storm incredibly
well and stands with so many small
businesses who have shown that agility
and resilience are fundamental to the
future of the economy.
Continuing to thrive
So where does a small business in
an unpopular and declining industry
go next? The answer is in the
untapped resource of legacy. Most
companies of any size would sell
their souls for over two centuries of
traditional manufacturing techniques
in any country. The fact that Gawith
Hoggarth can stand proudly next to
the Union Jack creates the perfect
springboard to the rest of the world.
With the more traditional products
gaining momentum in China and the
USA, and increasing interest from
around the globe, it feels like the sky is
the limit for the potential of this small
business. With initial order quantities
of almost 20 tonnes to China alone
without any real commercial effort,
the focus must now turn away from
the UK’s domestic situation and to
the potential of supplying the markets
that continue to crave the quality and
tradition of Best of British.
Our company
is not in the
business of
providing a
‘nicotine fix’,
but rather a
pleasure akin
to the
enjoyment of
fine whisky
Original packaging of
Samuel Gawith products
Hessian sacks of Latakia
tobacco leaf grown in Cyprus

This article was sponsored by Gawith Hoggarth. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy