We’ve been fooled!

We are used to seeing goods proudly proclaiming their Britishness that, in reality, have very little to do with British manufacturing but because we are ordinarily so careful we never thought that we would fall for one of these cunning marketing ploys. However, yesterday we made a very big mistake in our project to buy only British and it is fair to say that were were more than a little upset by it!

Yesterday we went to Homebase to look for some supplies to do some much needed DIY on our house.  While there we saw some Minky ironing boards that proudly announcing that they are the “UK’s No.1 Manufacturer” along with a prominent Union Flag and complete with Royal warrant. We decided on a handy table-top version and continued with the rest of our shopping. It was actually only a moment ago that  James brought it over to inspect it before we unwrapped it that we saw the woefully tiny words ‘Made in China’ discreetly placed as a footnote to the barcode.

Thankfully we have the receipt so needless to say it will be making a swift return to Homebase tomorrow. A near miss possibly but a genuine mistake and one that shows the power of the warrant and a Union flag. We will promise to read all labels carefully from now on but it really does show how difficult and confusing buying British can be, even for seasoned professionals like us 😉

It is also worth mentioning that in this same shopping trip we also bought some properly British Farrow and Ball paint!

– Emily


  1. Hoorah to the paint! Raspberries to the ironing board, I have been duped before on labelling, not sure how they can get away wth it. Annoying, but at least you can take it back as your protest…

  2. This example only highlights further how canny you have to be when trying to know where items are made. On their site Minky mention only two manufacturing sites: Rochdale and Germany, no mention at all about China. I hope, once you have returned this purchase, you will contact Minky to get a response. I look forward to hearing what they say.
    In the mean time, don’t beat yourselves up about this one slip; it does not change the good the rest of your efforts are doing for British manufacturing!

  3. It just proves that our labeling system is a waste of time. I too would like to know what response you may get from Minky.

  4. I have just emailed Minky with regards to the Ironing board and this is the response I got.

    Dear sir/madam,

    Can you confirm that your Table Top Ironing Board sold in Homebase is manufactured and built in the UK ?

    Yours sincerely

    Dear Clive,
    Our table top ironing board is made in China.
    Regards Janet.

  5. Infuriating..

  6. Heidi Rose says

    I had some things that said they were British and had our flag but when you read the small print they were not actually made in the UK. Surely that is false advertising as it is misleading you into thinking something is British when clearly it isn’t?

  7. Can they not be reported to the OFT, or are they another expensive but toothless bunch of civil servants at the trough? Or the local Trading Standards – they are usually pretty good.

    I’ve often thought of printing a load of labels from my PC saying “Buy British” or “Don’t Buy French” etc, and sticking them on the handles of supermarket trollies. Unfortunately I’ve never had the balls to risk getting dragged away in handcuffs from Morrisons by the police waving EU Directives in the air.

    Maybe we should all visit Homebase and smother their ironing boards with labels saying “Made in China – Inferior Quality”.

    Power to the People as Wolfie used to say.

    • We are about celebrating Britain not being activists but we will support your direct action… from a distance. We might even bail you out of jail. 😉

  8. Gordon Smith says

    Surely this is misrepresentation, definitely a Trading Standards job to look into. I reported a Mini advert to the Advertising Standards Authority for the Countryman shewing a Union flag in an advert even though the vehicle was made abroad. BT had a Union Flag on the box of a BT7600 even though it was only designed in Britain

  9. This probably has more to do with bulk packaging costs, but it is still misleading for someone trying to buy British made. There should be some statute that ensures that the marketing on the packaging relates specifically to the product being bought and not the product line.

    Don’t feel too bad about it though – I’ve been doing this seriously since 2008 when the concept of the Kimwetu.com database was born and I still get caught out. I think it also depends on how thick your skin is – it can be quite tiring to keep questioning people about the provenance of their products when they are being so evasive (or belligerent!).

  10. Very interesting, but where do you draw the line? Lets take the F and B Paint, a product which I know nothing about. Without doubt it is made and put in its tin in UK, but how does one know where the chemicals were sourced from? They may have come from Europe, China or the USA.

    The same goes for a Jaguar car. It is put together in the West Midlands, but the steel may be sourced worldwide, the instruments may be German and the tyres along with many other materials could come from all sorts of places. The foam in the seats is made from polyether foam and the chemical which are used in its manufacture probably come from Bayer a German chemical company. All thoughts on this would be of interest since we are manufacturing sofas and chairs from raw materials sourced in UK, however, I am sure that if I delve far enough back I will find contamination somewhere

    • We do not grow cotton in this country. Never had and never will do. However, a T-shirt stitched using the skill and sweat of a British worker in enough to make it British in our view.

      The issues you raise are common to manufacturing in any country.

  11. For those of us who manufacture completely in Britain this misleading labelling is infuriating. Well done for spotting the china label before opening it!

  12. After reading your post I then felt compelled to write to Minky (the letter is on the Kimwetu Facebook page). I’ll be interested to see if they reply – have you asked them about it?

  13. I have seen the “Designed in UK” trick quite a lot.

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