More Than Just Dishcloths
By the late 1950’s the firm began to add associated products to its line of cloths from other manufacturers, such as linen tea towels, yellow dusters, scourers, oven and household gloves. The company also began importing yellow dusters from India and Pakistan for re-sale.
Did you Know?
Dusters and cleaning cloths were traditionally made from rags recycled within the domestic environment before mass production. Muslin cloths used in the making of butter and cheese were recycled in this way. This stained the cloths yellow which proved so popular that weavers began to produce cloth dyed yellow for this purpose.
Ramon produced cloths in a variety of qualities and sizes, plain and multi-coloured, hemmed and unhemmed, wrapped and unwrapped.
Fancy designs were introduced and for several years Ramon successfully sold hundreds of thousands of novelty packs designed for the seaside gift trade. They came in fancy packaging complete with a racy rhyme, most of them written by Lisa Simon. One typical verse accompanying the best-selling cloth made up as a pair of panties ran:
Now don’t get excited, Nor don’t be misled
These are not to be worn, But for dishes instead.
So pull out the ribbon, And rip out the stitches,
And you ‘II have Two Dishcloths Instead of your Britches!
These fancy dishcloths were packaged in a variety of ingenious ways to resemble everything from a bikini to a hammock with saucy rhymes designed to appeal to the seaside day tripper.
Ramon’s success saw the £100,000 barrier breached for the first time in 1960 when sales of £122,511 were recorded. Ramon prospered during the 1960s thanks to the emergence of cash and carry outlets and supermarkets which provided valuable new outlets for Ramon’s products. The company could now afford to employ its first directly-employed salesman.
Thanks to this success, the company had outgrown its original premises by the late 1950s. Land was acquired from Leicester Corporation in 1958 and a new purpose-built factory was opened in the following year at 200, Victoria Road East, where the workforce now comprised between 20 to 25 people.
In addition to the factory staff, Ramon employed between 20 to 30 outworkers. These ladies folded and packed cloths and dusters for the company in their own homes and were recruited from within half a mile of the factory to make it easier for the firm to deliver and collect the cloths. They earned two shillings for every one hundred items folded and packed, working at the rate of one hundred every fifteen minutes.
Hazel Pick began work as an outworker for Ramon in 1962. She did all her folding and packing on a-sheet laid out on the floor to collect the dust which flew up from the cloths and dusters. Later she would supervise the firm’s outworkers and was still working for Ramon in 2000. The money these ladies earned enabled them to stay at home and bring up their children rather than go out to work but outworking gradually became less economic for the firm as wages steadily increased and more advanced forms of packaging were introduced.
As Britain pulled out of austerity into prosperity in the mid- 1950s, the industry became much more competitive, especially once yarn became more widely available. British spinning firms had been slow to adopt the latest cotton spinning techniques so the company turned instead to Spain and Italy where these techniques had been adopted, resulting in better yarn at a lower cost. New sources for raw material were quickly established in these countries. Ramon became the first British cleaning cloth manufacturing company to import yarn and the practice has continued with success to this day.
Under Peter Simon and Hans Rappolt, the company developed a reputation for quality unusual among firms dealing in low value bulk commodity products. Every single cloth was checked before being folded and packed and it was said that a Ramon cloth never had a ladder.