Czech-made blue onion tableware gets new lease on life as leading porcelain company posts profit

Photo: archive of Český porcelán

Porcelain is one of the country’s traditional export articles and the famous Bohemia blue-onion tableware, produced in Dubí ever since 1885 has found its way to 90 countries the world over. Like most Czech producers the Czech porcelain joint stock company in Dubí felt the crunch of the global economic crisis, hitting a low point in 2010, but now it appears to be over the worst and is once again showing a healthy profit.

Like Bohemia crystal glass, the country’s blue onion tableware is one of the country’s trademark articles. Its producer, the joint stock company Český porcelán is the holder of the Czech Family Silver award and has been among the 100 top firms in the Czech Republic for past eight years. However neither this nor a series of international awards for top quality protected it from the impact of the economic crisis when demand for its products dropped and it vied for clients with rival china firms in Europe.

Today its 300 employees can breathe a sigh of relief – the company’s annual profit is up by ten percent year on year, it is doing good business in the Far East and is making a comeback on the Russian market. Unless the emerging business opportunities in Russia are dashed by EU sanctions, the company’s immediate outlooks look bright.

The director and co-owner of the Dubí factory Vladimir Feix says that the company has recently made successful sales pitches in South Korea and Japan. He says it is important to be flexible in meeting clients’ demands regarding décor – for instance there are requests for hunting motifs, bears or geese on tableware sold abroad. The company offers a wide range of products to go with the tableware such as porcelain clocks with the identical blue and white décor, decorative fruit bowls, vases or an old fashioned porcelain telephone. They also make a small line of porcelain statuettes and amphoras which sell on the Russian market, though demand for them has waned in Europe.

Approximately 60 percent of production is exported and the company has also managed to revive flagging interest on the domestic market by offering firms porcelain as PR items or gift sets. Company CEO Vladimir Feix says the way to attract new clients is to offer fresh new design alongside the classics. For this purpose the company is cooperating with design students from the university in Ustí nad Labem. A collection of their designs represented Český porcelán at AMBIENTE, the biggest world porcelain trade fair held in Frankfurt in February this year. The pieces are now on show at the company’s own showroom in Dubí. The company’s CEO says the AMBIENTE trade fair is an annual source of inspiration since –with the exception of the classical white and blue design – colour schemes and patterns on porcelain change with every year and it is important to be on top of the latest fashion trends.