The clay manufacturer hopes the centre will help promote the importance of clay and ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent

Clay manufacturer Valentine Clays is creating a Ceramics Centre at the heart of the Potteries – to help promote the importance of clay and ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent.

The family-run company is launching the initiative – called Loveclay – at its new, £3 million state-of-the-art headquarters at the former Diamond Gimson Works, in Fenton.

Loveclay will boast themed workshops, an event and gallery space as well as an exhibition area, featuring the work of ceramic artists and potters from across the world.

The plans are part of the company’s wider ambition to transform the five-acre site into a tourist attraction – complete with a sculpture trail, café and maker’s studios.

Sales and marketing director Hannah Ault said: “We want people to love clay as much as we do. We want them to realise how important clay and ceramics is to the area, but at the same time we want to give back to the city by encouraging more visitors into Stoke-on-Trent.

“We want to help to promote the ceramics industry in a positive and contemporary light and show that it is growing and flourishing.”

As part of the company’s pledge to champion the ceramics industry, earlier this year Valentine Clays took ownership of the prestigious ceramics showcase Art in Clay Hatfield – a three-day event which attracts hundreds of ceramic artists from across the UK and Europe.

Hannah said: “Our customers are very important to us. We try to support them however we can and we try to promote their work through our gallery and exhibition spaces.

“Art in Clay is a massive ceramics exhibition which has been running for over 20 years. It is a really important event for people and is the bread and butter for some of our customers, so when we realised that the then organisers of the show wanted to retire, we were very keen to take it on.

“This year was our first year as organisers and we saw a 30 per cent increase in visitors, so there is huge potential for us as well as our customers.”

Now Valentine Clays is entering The Sentinel Business Awards in the Small Business of the Year category, sponsored by Beswicks Legal, and the Growth category sponsored by Dains.

Over the next five years the company wants to continue to grow and has plans to increase sales by 50 per cent and increase its workforce to almost 50 – as well as stepping up production and product development.

The firm also wants to start work on the next two phases of the development in Fenton – the construction of two purpose-built factories.

Hannah added: “This development will revolutionise our business because it will help us to increase production and grow. At the moment we are at the stage where we can’t make enough clay because there is such a demand for it. It’s a great place to be in, but it means we are in desperate need of the new factories. So we are very excited about the future.”

Article taken from the Sentinel website.