Ewbank is dusted off for new generation

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The Independent Online
In the age of the vacuum cleaner, the old-fashioned carpet sweeper has been gathering dust. But now the Ewbank, a household name of yesteryear, is set for a comeback.

The Ewbank business was sold to new management in May, as part of the pounds 15m deal involving the loss-making Prestige saucepans and pressure- cooker business.

The plan to breathe new life into the Ewbank is part of a package of initiatives planned by the new chairman of Prestige, 67-year-old Jacques Margry, who hopes to return the company to profit with increased sales at home and abroad.

He is convinced that the Ewbank sweeper still has a place in the homes of gadget-conscious Britain. He is planning a marketing push to bring the delights of the little machines to a bigger, younger audience.

"There is still a big demand for them but under the old management they were never really marketed. We think it is something well worth developing. There is an opportunity there. You just need to be a bit creative," he said.

Though the pots and pans business will remain a priority, Mr Margry plans to introduce different types of Ewbank, such as a smaller version and models with telescopic handles that will suit cramped spaces such as caravans, mobile homes and boats.

The company still sells about 100,000 Ewbanks a year at prices ranging between pounds 17 and pounds 35.

Mr Margry is moving fast at Prestige, which is losing about pounds 7m a year on sales of pounds 50m. He has already closed the Egham head office and moved the administrative functions to the Burnley factory.

More than pounds 7m will be invested in new equipment and almost 100 of the 350 manu- facturing jobs will go under a voluntary redundancy scheme. Some of the unwanted kitchen utensil ranges will be stripped out.