Lighting manufacturer ‘thrilled’ after snapping up glassblowing firm

Glassblowing at artisan glassblowers Suffolk Glass of Clare, near Sudbury, which has been snapped up

Glassblowing at artisan glassblowers Suffolk Glass of Clare, near Sudbury, which has been snapped up by Jim Lawrence - Credit: Jim Lawrence

A lighting company started by former Suffolk livestock farmers has snapped up an artisan glassblowing firm for an undisclosed sum.

Lighting and homeware manufacturer Jim Lawrence – based in a workshop at Hadleigh – has acquired Clare-based Suffolk Glass.

Jim Lawrence and Lee Saxby of Jim Lawrence Lighting & Home in its Hadleigh workshop

Jim Lawrence and Lee Saxby of Jim Lawrence Lighting & Home in its Hadleigh workshop - Credit: Jim Lawrence

Jim Lawrence was founded by husband-and-wife team Jim and Sheena Lawrence on the kitchen table of their Stoke-by-Nayland farmhouse in 1994. It has grown to a 150-strong workforce of engineers, welders, painters, seamstresses, designers, lampshade makers and technicians and support staff and has a showroom in Walcot in Bath. 

These make lighting and home accessories using traditional techniques.

All five employees of Suffolk Glass – which has been going since 1981 and produces hand-made glassware using glassblowing and manipulation techniques – will be retained under the deal..

In 2007 Suffolk Glass moved to Acton, near Sudbury, then in 2019 to its current factory in Clare, following continued growth.
Its team will continue to work with existing suppliers and wide range of clients under its new management, while creating job opportunities for people in the local area, said Jim Lawrence.

The two companies have worked together for many years on a range of glass pendants, ceiling lights and lampshades made using traditional glassmaking techniques, it added.  

They had “a shared vision to create beautiful products with customers at the heart of what they do” using a team of highly skilled local craftspeople. When the opportunity arose to combine them it was a “natural step” for the two businesses to join forces, said Jim Lawrence.

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Mr Lawrence added: “We’ve partnered with Suffolk Glass for a long time and are thrilled to expand the Jim Lawrence brand and start this new venture as one team.

“It has always been our goal to champion great British craftsmanship by enhancing our range of in-house artisan skills at our Suffolk workshops, and we’re excited to upskill, recruit and grow our teams actively in this new area of the business.”

When Mr Lawrence started the company in the 1990s, he was rearing cattle and pigs but it became apparent that on such a small scale his livestock business was not going to be profitable. 

He decided to set up a forge in one of the farm buildings and started making specialist pieces for friends and neighbours.

He began producing a small range of candlesticks and chandeliers which he sold at fairs and markets, then moved on to gates, railings and curtain poles.

He won a contract making park fencing for a local farmer. He refurbished the farm buildings and took on more people in order to start selling by mail order.

He then expanded into making electrical items, which now accounts for 60% to 70% of sales.

After outgrowing its premises, the firm moved to a new site around 2000.