12 FEB 2019: When a Royal Warrant is issued, Dog the Bounty Hunter doesn’t burst through the door, no one goes to jail and everyone profits. The Royal Warrant is the penultimate in celebrity endorsements. They’re also the most valid since those issuing them actually use the product and aren’t paid for their “endorsement”. It’s a way for commoners to access a royal lifestyle.

A Royal Warrant is a reward and recognition for good business. The Warrant signifies that the holder provides goods or service to a Royal Household. Currently, there are three grantors – the individuals under whose patronage a firm is recognized. They are Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

Once a Warrant is granted the business displays the grantor’s coat of arms with a subtle line underneath reading “By appointment to …” and a reference to what they purchase from this business.

Reliability and quality are key considerations in granting a warrant. With five major addresses to maintain - the 775-room Buckingham Palace, 1,000-year-old Windsor Castle, 900-year-old Palace of Holyroodhouse, plus the 70,000-acres at her Balmoral and Sandringham estates – The Queen and Duke have a lot of needs. The Prince of Wales’ personal real estate portfolio includes Clarence House, Highgrove House, Birkhall and Llwynywermod.

According to Richard Peck, secretary of the 800-member Royal Warrant Holders’ Association, to earn a warrant, “A company has to have supplied goods or services for at least five years to a Royal Household. After five years they can apply” for a warrant. “We process it and then it goes to the person in the Household who is actually dealing with the company to get their comments. In the autumn a committee in the Household looks at all the new applications. They will make a recommendation to what is known as the Grantor, which is Her Majesty the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh or Prince of Wales, and, depending on what the answer is, the warrant is granted. Or not.

It is quite possible that the Grantor will not necessarily take the advice of the committee. It’s quite a thorough process. And the beauty of this whole process is that after five years you’ve got a really good idea of how well that company performs. So it is a very good way of choosing your supplier base. It’s probably a pity a lot of other companies don’t do it.”

The cynical might expect anyone selling to the Queen would automatically provide extraordinary service, if only to this one customer. Peck smiles, “The company must provide the same service to the public as they do to the Royal Household. That is something we’re particularly keen on because it’s no good just providing a really brilliant service to the Royal Household if all their other customers are complaining and saying they’re bad.”

To hold suppliers’ feet to the fire, the Warrant isn’t granted to a business, but to an individual, like a company officer, thereby making someone personably responsible for quality and service. So, no matter how big the business, there is no hiding behind layers of managers and customer relations people.

The Royal Households’ requirement for supplier stability – and the need to not be involved in unnecessary controversy – means Warrant holders are also vetted for financial stability as well as environmental and sustainability audits. “It’s about making every effort to ensure the business is based on sustainability and not using up the earth’s limited resources. The audit extends into the corporate social responsibility areas as well. So, if they (a warrant holder) is sourcing products from the Third World, are they paying the proper rate? Are they using child labor?”

While Royal Warrant holders can be perceived as the Best of British, it’s not a closed opportunity. Non-British companies are occasionally awarded warrants. “The vast majority are British companies. Not surprisingly the Royal Family, wherever they can, support home industries. But clearly there are some products this country can’t provide so they will go abroad. Tabasco sauce, John Deere tractors and Esso are examples of American companies with warrants.”

Fortnum & Mason, which have been in business since 1707, also have warrants. While not in the average family’s budget, F&M is owned by Toronto’s Weston family. PC points are not given or honoured.

F&M is next door to Hatchards, the royal booksellers, who have been in the same Piccadilly location since 1797.

Warrant holders are an interesting and diverse mix of businesses. They range from mainstream and mundane to the seemingly archaic and exotic needs of monarchy. For example, there is an official mole catcher. Another firm provides wooden carriage wheels. There are button and badge makers, uniform specialists, a company providing ermine-trimmed robes for Court functions, jewelers and silversmiths, horse movers, saddle makers to a sword supplier. And yes, there is a royal handbag maker. Launer have supplied over 250 handbags to Her Majesty.

While no current member of the Royal Family smokes, previous sovereigns have issued warrants to tobacco suppliers. In fact, Benson & Hedges cigarettes were developed in 1883 at the bequest of the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. The Prince commissioned the company to produce an exclusive cigarette containing Egyptian tobacco blends which was an oddity at the time since most cigarettes contained Turkish blends. B&H’s popularity grew during World War One when it became unpatriotic to smoke enemy Turkish tobacco.

Another former royal warrant holder is JJ Fox Ltd. at 19 St. James Street, midway between The Ritz and St. James’ Palace. Founded in 1787, Fox is the world’s oldest cigar store and served clients from Napoleon III, Oscar Wilde, Edward VII, Winston Churchill, George V, George VI and late Queen Mother (for her guests). They occasionally host on-site cigar events.

While it is an honor to supply a member of the Royal Family, Peck is quick to dismiss the myth that warrant holders are chosen on snob appeal. “It is very much about value for money. They wouldn’t be in their position if they hadn’t demonstrated they were good companies. The majority of companies that hold the Royal Warrant are in the highest echelon of industry.”

There is also a hard pounds-and-pence business case to be made for possessing a warrant. Peck says, “A Scottish company which has all three Royal Warrants says 80 percent of their business done in the Far East because they recognize that the Royal Warrant stands for quality and reliability.”

In a television documentary, Marketing the Monarchy, Nigel Mucho, vice chairman of his family’s 50-year-old apparel company, said after they received their warrants in 2010 sales rose 20 percent.

Gary Burnand, Director of Global Marketing and Strategy at J Barbour & Sons, who provide their famous oiled coats to the Queen, Duke and Prince says when the movie The Queen showed Helen Mirren in one of their coats, “Sales of the Beaufort jacket doubled overnight."

For a truly bespoke shopping experience the greatest cluster of Royal Warrant holder-owned shops are located on Piccadilly, New Bond Street, St. James Street and Pall Mall. Otherwise, shops, studios, factories and display rooms are spread across the kingdom.

For information about the Royal Warrant and Holders, click on http://www.royalwarrant.org.

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