I had the opportunity to visit this operator today. It’s a very interesting operation – or rather a combination of different operations put together in order to create a synergy of order winners. There’s a great video on their website, but here’s a summary of what they do:
- grow and harvest willow;
- make a wide variety of artefacts, such as baskets and trugs, from willow using traditional craft methods;
- make charcoal from willow;
- make charcoal sticks for use by artists;
- make powdered charcoal for use as a filter or in fireworks;
- retail willow products in their own store;
- lease retail space to other operators to market their products;
- custom make willow products for use in theatrical and film productions;
- maintain a habitat that encourages wildlife;
- display the history of willow working in their own museum;
- offer willow workshops training people in how to make willow items;
- operate a visitor centre;
- operate a cafe.
In simple terms they have a vertically integrated business, with total control over their supply chain. In order to generate more revenue, they then enable visitors to see all aspects of their operations, and supplement this experience with additional facilities, such as the museum and cafe.