Heritage Welsh family firm Corgi, a world-renowned manufacturer of luxury socks and knitwear, has long had an export focus and boasts an army of loyal fans from all over the globe.

Exports represent 60% of Corgi’s turnover and their core export markets include the US, China, Japan and Germany - the US being the largest. Corgi was introduced to its partners in China and Japan by the Welsh Government. 

Corgi has been creating its famous handmade socks and knitwear from its base in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, for the last 132 years. 

Founded by Rhys Jones in 1893 in the small Welsh mining village where it is still located today, the company started out life as an independent haberdashery kitting out local miners, but quickly grew to service clothing retailers across the UK. 

After seeing great success domestically, the business began thinking about its international potential and in the late 1940s, struck a deal with iconic American fashion brand, Brooks Brothers – the oldest clothing retailer in the US. 

Luxury fashion

This marked the start of Corgi’s export journey, as well as a long association with the world of luxury fashion, including partnerships with Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Thom Browne.

By the 1980s, Corgi was successfully exporting around the world, but it was also doing well at home and in 1988, was awarded a Royal Warrant by HRH the Prince of Wales; the Prince (now King Charles III) having worn the brand for many years. 

The Royal Palace shops are in fact now Corgi’s largest domestic client with the brand creating several designs for the Royal Collection.


Today, the company is run by the fifth generation of the Jones family - siblings Chris Jones and Lisa Wood - and boasts a substantial international customer base spanning more than 30 countries across Europe, North America, South America and Asia. 

Increased export focus

Corgi has notably accelerated its export focus in the last five years, in which time it has begun exporting to 15 new markets including China, South America, South Africa, Taiwan, Vietnam and Australia, boosting its turnover by a third.

The firm has received support from Welsh Government over the last few years to assist its export growth including financial support to attend various trade missions around the world which have enabled it to meet potential distributors, many of whom are now customers. 

In particular Corgi’s market growth in Japan has been enabled with Welsh Government support. Trade advisors have been helping Corgi with a new series of trunk shows in the country, which have proved to be enormously successful in reaching new customers - so much so that they are planning to replicate the model in neighbouring Korea.


Targeting China

Corgi has also been upscaling activity in China, and in order to sustain its growth in the region, the Corgi team has been spending time in-market forging new links with distributors in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, a leading tech hub. Much of this activity has been supported by Welsh Government trade advisors.

The brand has also been working with a number of Chinese fashion influencers, participating in Instagram Live Shopping sessions, where products are sold directly from the app. Recently Corgi sold over £50,000 of products in one three-hour session that had an average of 2,000 viewers at any one time. As a result of this success more international influencer partnerships are being organised.

In more domestic news, Corgi’s international profile has been boosted by the fact that its principle UK competitor has recently offshored production to Europe, meaning Corgi is now the UK’s only fine sock manufacturer, a status it is extremely proud of. Such a development is already leading to new business in Asian markets where the ‘Made in Britain’ status is highly prized.

Chris Jones, joint managing director at Corgi said:

“Our export strategy has been what has helped Corgi to remain resilient through a challenging number of years. Where certain markets have taken a hit, others have remained buoyant, or grown. This is why exporting is such a vital element of our business.

“My key advice to potential exporters is this – it’s really hard to operate internationally unless you have a great market partner. We have many long standing and trusted in-market relationships all around the world, some of which we were introduced to via the Welsh Government. These partners are the cornerstone of our export business, and we couldn’t do what we do without them.”


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