The best secret factory shops
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Where to find Britain's biggest shopping bargains and cheapest top brand outlets
The ultimate bargain hunter’s dream is to find a small 'secret' shop that sells the products of one of the best up-market brands at ridiculously low prices… but hardly anyone else knows about it.
Luxury goods like Mulberry and Burberry accessories, Paul Smith clothes, Barbour jackets, ceramics by Spode and carpets by Wilton are normally found in glamorous glossy shops at ludicrously high prices. But I can reveal where you can travel in the UK to buy these goods at a fraction of the normal cost... ie. very cheap!
That’s because many of these famous companies run small unpublicised shops next to their factories. This where unsuccessful prototypes, seconds and discontinued lines are sold off to a few faithful or lucky customers in the know.
These bargains are even better than those in the slick ‘factory’ outlet villages springing up all over the UK. There are now more than 20 discount outlet ‘villages’ offering reduced prices on luxury products. Two of the best are Oxfordshire's Bicester Village and Clark’s Village in Street, Somerset.
An indication of how popular these sites have become – and why I include factory shops in my remit as a travel writer – is that both are now among Britain’s most popular visitor attractions. In comparison, the small factory shops we’ve discovered are a shopper’s equivalent of a gorgeous sandy beach with no-one else on it....
Bede Industrial Estate, South Shields
A shop in pat of a factory on an industrial estate in South Shields is the best place to buy these prestigious waxed jackets and upmarket range of clothing. It’s next to a Metro Station but don’t let the unlikely surroundings put you off, the factory shop offers 30 – 50 per cent discounts off RRP.
Typical bargain: waxed jackets reduced by £50 (very slight faults which are pointed out).
The Old School House, Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
01749 340 583
An old school on a main road next to a factory is the unlikely home for this luxury accessories and soft furnishing company’s second’s shop. Yet here you’ll find the biggest selection of their products outside their glitzy flagship in London’s Bond Street… and all at a discount.
Typical bargain: man’s shirt at a third of its price, leather wallets reduced halved
Travel tip: Helpfully for visiting shoppers, Mulberry’s founder runs Charlton House, a luxurious country house hotel and restaurant in a quieter spot a short walk away. It is, of course, decorated throughout in Mulberry products.
29 Chatham Place, Hackney, London
020 8985 3344
Burberry's Factory Shop adjoins the last of Hackney’s large rag-trade workshops that still functions. The shop sells a full range of the well-known mackintoshes, scarves and umbrellas at about a third of normal prices.
Typical bargain: last season’s Burberry duffel coat reduced by £100
23 Avery Row, London, W1
020 7493 1287
At the small and semi-secret Paul Smith ‘warehouse shop’ you are able to pick up his designer clothes at around half price, including jeans, knitwear and sportswear. Paul Smith’s press spokeswoman Alison Smith tried to stop us revealing the shop’s secrets: “It's company policy that we do not give out press information on the Avery Row shop,” she insisted.
Typical bargain: last season’s dark suits reduced by more than half
Fairfield Road, Warminster, Wiltshire
Finest quality handmade leather gloves from Dents are available at a great discount here – in an alleyway behind the post office in a small Wiltshire market town. There’s also the Dents range of silk ties, umbrellas, handbags, hats and belts.
Typical bargain: silk-lined ladies leather gloves in last season’s colours reduced from £39 to £20.
1 King Street, Wilton, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Take a tour of this world famous bespoke carpet weaving factory, then call in at the clearance shop in the old dye-house – because this is the place for some of the finest carpet and rug bargains in the UK.
Typical bargain: end of contract Wilton wool carpet at £12per sq. metre that could cost up to £70 psm in shops.
Lea Bridge, Matlock, Derbyshire
Quality British-made clothing available at bargain prices as long as you can find the little shop in the Smedley’s mill building. Smedley’s also have a shop inside their clothing factory in Doncaster (01302 832346).
Typical bargain: Previous range of men’s sweaters reduced from £100 to £39.
And for ceramics of all types...
Head to Staffordshire where there is a host of little discount outlets next to the world-famous potteries. Visitors can find factory shops for Spode, Poole Pottery, Portmeirion, Royal Doulton, Minton, Wedgwood and so on. There's a comprehensive listing here.
Know any more secret factory outlets? Please send any suggestions to the team at simonheptinstall.com by email HERE or one our Facebook page HERE and we'll add them to this page as soon as possible!
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