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Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Monday, 29 November 2010
Dragon Deborah Meaden helps 200-year-old company
Deborah Meaden
Deborah Meaden now owns an 80% stake in the company

Many businesses have tried and failed to tame the Dragons on BBC Two's Dragon's Den.

But one 200-year-old Wellington firm says Deborah Meaden - who's from Somerset - is reviving their fortunes.

After years of struggling, cloth maker Fox Brothers enlisted her help last year. The Dragon now owns 80% of the business.

She said: "You step across the threshold into Fox... you smell it, you hear it, you feel it."

Mrs Meaden added: "I spend my life stroking people's jackets and things and feeling the cloth.

"This is a business with a great, great future. So not surprisingly, I'm in!"

Managing director Douglas Cordeaux - who has known Deborah for years - said they had been looking at taking on a project together for years and this one came up at the right time.

"She already knew about the business so she was in," he said.

"It is fantastic as it gives stability to the company. It's an artisan workforce and the shoulders have flown back."

Mrs Meaden has taken a very hands on approach, calling the office daily and making an appearance at the factory weekly.

Product love

And what matters to both of them is the preservation of manufacturing.

Mrs Meaden said: "It matters to a country's psyche that it makes things.

"We're not going for mass market, we're going for absolutely the best."

Mr Cordeaux added: "It was the sound that gripped me and Deborah - the sound of Britain making things and making the world's finest flannel here in Somerset."

Fox Brothers used to export flannel across the world and employed 5,000 people but now the company is much smaller, with just 20 employees.

In this tough financial climate, Mr Cordeaux said it was viable for people to set up new manufacturing businesses, providing they have a niche product that is different to the marketplace and that people have a love for that product.

"A lot of businesses were moving to China for mass production but now we're seeing that trend being bucked and much more focus on quality again and that's why we have been able to maintain this business.

"People all around the world respect the quality and it's here in Somerset."




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