Honey B's

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Honey B's's best practice article

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 Honey B's is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Director Margaret McFerran
Our great team
Honey B’s are a clothes manufacturer and retailer with
a distinctive family feel. In addition to their pride in
the products they manufacture, they pride themselves
on flying the flag for British manufacturing – especially
given Britain’s decline in clothes production over the last
few decades. As a small family business, their organisational
approach consists of close collaboration between every
employee, ensuring everyone has a voice and that no one is
left behind. Their CEO and founder, Margaret McFerran, tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about the company, its past and
where she thinks things are headed.
We are based in north Warwickshire and have our own factory, where we
manufacture quality and affordable merchandise – the sort of items that are hard,
if not impossible, to find on the high street or in major chains. These include tutus,
skirts, printed T-shirts, embroidered blankets and scarfs, customised Babygros, dog
clothing and beds, and nappy cakes.
We also supply the following:
»Director: Margaret McFerran
»Established in 2004
»Based in north Warwickshire
»Services: Manufacture and
retail of clothes
»No. of employees: 5 as well as
Margaret and her husband
»Honey B’s sells through
Amazon, eBay and Etsy
Honey B’s
»Fancy dress
Highlighting best practice
How the journey began
Honey B’s began in 2003, when I
decided I wanted to start my own
business on a part-time basis. Initially,
I used my spare bedroom as both an
office and a warehouse. I would come
home from my full-time work and print
off orders, pack them and dispatch
them. My husband would take me
to the local post office late in the
afternoon so that orders arrived with
customers as soon as possible.
The orders continued to grow: 10
a day soon became 20 a day, 20
became 30, and so on. The workload
became too much for me alone, so
my eldest son began to help. The
success continued to mount until the
recession of 2008, when my suppliers
raised costs significantly. From
then it became clear: I had to start
More and more, our home began
to resemble a workshop, and so we
decided to rent out a unit nearby.
Within 12 months, we had to move
to larger premises and my sons were
working for the business full-time.
With this move also came the purchase
of better, more efficient machinery.
Continual self-evaluation and
One of the characteristics that
most defines us as a company is
our continued commitment to
improvement. Our daily meetings
ensure that everyone shares the same
vision and that all voices are heard.
We are also always on the lookout for
new design equipment to improve the
scale and speed of our production.
Alongside this, we believe strongly
in working more intelligently and in
thinking up new ways of doing things.
Having a multiskilled workforce –
always developing and honing skills
in all areas – is also important to us.
Only in this way can we react to the
changing conditions of the market as
time moves on.
To keep us on track, we have weekly
targets and ensure at all times that we
are meeting customer expectations.
Indeed, high customer satisfaction
is at the very heart of all that we do.
For example, every year we choose
a dance school to make tutus and
accessories for, free of charge.
Ultimately, to be successful, we need
to understand the needs and wants
of our customers, and to supply them
in such a way that we exceed their
expectations and make them happy.
This commitment, however, is just one
aspect of ourethos.
We believe, as a company, that people
are the main concern. For this reason,
Cutting with precision
One of the
that most
defines us as a
company is
our continued
we look closely at our behaviour
and attitudes, ensuring that we treat
people in the way we ourselves would
like to be treated. We also have a
strong focus on health and safety in
all areas of the business – far beyond
the minimum standards expected of
We are especially proud of flying
the flag for British manufacturing.
Our goal is to play a role in putting
the “great” into “Great British
manufacturing”. This goes beyond
just words – all of our fabric is sourced
in the UK, our flare-free tutu netting
is manufactured in England and we
are members of the British Crafters
Guild. Furthermore, every one of our
products is manufactured in our north
Warwickshire factory.
Difficulties in the sector
Moving forward, there are challenges
to bear in mind – one of them being
Brexit, or, more specifically, the
uncertainty surrounding it, which
causes troubles not just for a company
like ours but across the sector. It’s
difficult to say exactly how this will
impact us, but that’s the point: in
business, long-term decisions need to
assume a degree of long-term stability,
and we are denied this by the length
of time Brexit is taking.
More generally speaking, the political
climate is becoming increasingly
unfavourable for us – especially as
a small business. An ever-increasing
number of regulations means more
and more of our time is spent on
compliance rather than improving
the business. While many of these
regulations have solid ethical reasons,
they are not always drafted with
small businesses – which often don’t
have the resources to stay on top of
compliance – in mind.
Another challenge for us is the
competition we face from high street
stores. Many believe that online retail is
winning at the expense of high street
stores. This, however, is a simplistic
picture – we face tough competition
from high street retailers such as
Poundland, Primark and supermarkets.
Indeed, over the Christmas period, our
sales take a massive hit. Furthermore,
high street retailers don’t have to
worry as much about the fragility of
the mail system, where items go lost or
undergo long delays.
Nevertheless, as we approach the
future, I remain confident that our
business will continue its already
miraculous journey from a part-time
household operation to having its
own premises and full-time staff. We
will continue to hold high the flag
of British manufacturing, whatever
challenges come our way.
We look closely
at our behaviour
and attitudes,
ensuring that
we treat people
in the way we
ourselves would
like to be
Tutu manufacturing


This article was sponsored by Honey B's. 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 Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster