Newclay Products

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Newclay Products'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 Newclay Products 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

Highlighting best practice
Dr Paul and MrsValerie Dearing,
Rainbow Newplast – described by
a customer as the Rolls Royce of
modelling clays
Newclay Products manufacture a range of modelling
materials for use in schools and the wider arts and crafts
industry. Established in the 1960s, they have expanded
their range and liaise with customers to design new products.
They are also widely used by the stop-motion animation industry
and provide materials for Aardman Animations, the makers of
Wallace and Gromit. Paul Dearing, a director of the company
alongside his wife Valerie, explains the origins of the company
and how they are preparing for Brexit.
Proudly made in Devon, our products are used worldwide. From film studios to
heavy industry, they are to be found in many diverse locations. Our company has
been family-owned throughout and our journey began in the 1960s in the humble
environment of a garden shed. Our founder, an arts and crafts teacher, thought that
the quality of the air-drying modelling clays available at the time could be significantly
improved. The response to this gap in the market was the development of Newclay
Products. Our company was established as sales grew, and its incorporation
followed in 1967. New products were developed in response to customers’ need
for quality modelling materials and accessories. The company continued to grow
through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, prompting several changes of location.
My wife Valerie and I bought the business in November 2006, following a period of
decline due to personal issues within the family of the previous owners. Customer
focus had been lost and sales had decreased, particularly to the manufacturers
in the Far East who could operate with a far lower labour cost. Our first priority
was to stabilise the business. Then the financial crisis hit the global economy.
»Directors: Dr Paul and
MrsValerie Dearing
»Based in Heathfield, Devon
»Founded in 1967
»Services: Manufacture of
modelling materials and
»No. of employees: 10
»Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and
Gromit and Morph are made
from our products
Newclay Products
Protectingthe company from further
damage became a high priority as
external factors affected our customers
and suppliers, as well as our ability to
obtain finance. More modern austerity
measures followed, affecting our
biggest market, as margins on sales into
schools were being squeezed tightly.
I regard the modest growth we have
achieved in recent years to be a success,
considering the financial environment.
Working with customers to
expand our range
While the company’s beginnings were
modest, they set the core principles of
quality, flexibility and responsiveness
that still guide us today. Since
acquiring Newclay Products, we have
added a strong customer focus to
these core principles. More items have
been introduced to meet customers’
needs. We like nothing more than
working with them to develop the
products they require.
We also love to bring customers’
own ideas to life using our modelling
materials. Our growing range
demonstrates our success in identifying
their needs and working with them
to make them a reality. Following
our customers’ dreams often takes
us into new markets: aromatherapy
products and carving clay are just
two examples. This can often lead to
greater expansion: we entered the
aromatherapy market in 2013 with the
acquisition of the MohDoh brand.
Facing up to Brexit
Since the referendum vote in 2016,
we have been preparing as best we
can for the uncertainties of Brexit.
Our plans for the future will no doubt
be affected by the UK leaving the
EU. There will be problems along
the way, but I believe that Brexit will
bring many opportunities. It remains
to be seen how this will play out, but
I am optimistic about the future of
our business post-Brexit in the world
beyond Europe, with better access to
global markets.
We aim to be in as strong a position
as possible after Brexit. To prepare for
it, we have made major investments,
including the appointment of an
operations manager and an office
administrator. These new roles will
allow my wife and me to concentrate MohDoh aromatherapy
dough – sent everywhere
from Australia to Norway
It remains to be
seen how this
will play out,
but I am
optimistic about
the future of
our business
post-Brexit in
the world
beyond Europe,
with better
access to global
Highlighting best practice
on those parts of the business that drive
growth. New product development is
being increased, facilitating entry to
market sectors previously left to our
competitors. Improvements to the
existing range will enhance quality and
make it more attractive to consumers.
These changes will underpin a renewed
sales and marketing focus, driving sales
and helping to reduce production costs.
We were founded in support of arts
and crafts in schools, and this is where
our greatest influence has been.
Newclay raised the bar in terms of
quality for air-drying modelling clays.
Subsequent new products, such as
Newplast, Air Dough and Finger Soft
Dough, introduced more high-quality
alternative modelling materials into
schools and the wider arts and crafts
market. Our innovation also resulted
in the introduction of Uro, the only
polymer clay manufactured in the UK.
More recently, in response to demand
from budget-conscious schools,
NovaClay was developed. A lower-
cost air-drying modelling clay retaining
much of the quality of Newclay,
NovaClay offers exceptional value
Supplying Aardman Animations
Our influence goes well beyond
the education and arts and crafts
industries. Newplast is the material
of choice for Aardman Animations
and many others in the stop-motion
animation and media industries. We
are proud that one of our products
helped to make Aardman’s iconic and
famous characters come to life. Many
professional sculptors use Newclay,
with some pieces now adorning the
homes of well-known celebrities.
The uses for our products are almost
endless. We regularly hear about varied
and unusual purposes for our items,
such as demonstrating the function
of sausage machines through the use
of our playing dough or the use of
Newplast in Airbus production. We
even contributed, in a very small way,
to the military action in Afghanistan
when some Newplast was delivered
to Camp Bastion. We will continue to
develop and extend our current range
and are hopeful that we will sustain
the growth that we have seen in the
last few years.
Newplast is
the material of
choice for
and many
others in the
animation and
Gromit, Morph and Shaun
the Sheep, made from
Newplast –Aardman
Animations Ltd, 2018

This article was sponsored by Newclay Products. 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