King Charles’s gun maker says Brexit is keeping a cap on sales

King Charles - Anwar Hussein/Getty Images Europe
King Charles - Anwar Hussein/Getty Images Europe

The King’s gun maker has said Brexit is making it harder to attract customers.

208-year-old James Purdey & Sons warned in recently filed accounts that Brexit and Covid-19 had created “difficult market conditions with many gun makers struggling to convert enquiries to orders”.

Founded in 1814, James Purdey & Sons produces bespoke high-end, ornate shotguns and rifles at its factory in Hammersmith, London, as well as upmarket clothing and accessories.

It currently holds three royal warrants for supplying the late Queen and King Charles under his former title the Prince of Wales with guns and cartridges, as well as a warrant to supply guns for the late Duke of Edinburgh. It has been a royal warrant holder since 1868.

The company’s Brexit complaint comes after Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman warned last week that plans to ease post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland were “baffling” and “overbearing”.

The majority of Purdey's guns are sold to buyers in the USA and the UK, however it also sells clothing into Europe. The company said in its accounts: “A high proportion of sales come from abroad and demand is dependent on exchange rates and the health of the world economy.

“Lack of consumer confidence in the stock markets or falls in the price of oil tends to affect customers’ willingness to invest in a product that can take two years to manufacture.”

Brand new bespoke guns from the company can cost in excess of £70,000 depending on how they are customised. Second hand Purdey guns can be found listed for as much as £30,000 online rising to as high as £100,000 in some cases.

As well as its guns and attire, the company also runs a shooting school in the village of Pangbourne, Berkshire, and hosts shooting days for groups of enthusiasts.

West London Shooting School giving shooting lesson to a group - Paul Grove/The Telegraph
West London Shooting School giving shooting lesson to a group - Paul Grove/The Telegraph

Despite warning of headwinds from Brexit, sales at James Purdey & Sons rose 15pc to £12.4m in 2022.

The business lost £1.7m last year, however this was down from £6.3m in 2021. Parent company Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group that also owns Cartier and Dunhill, agreed to support the company for the foreseeable future, accounts show.

Potentially large markets for Purdey's guns such as India and China were “at present blocked” due to strict import laws into India and tight restrictions on gun ownership in China, it said. Exports to Russia, meanwhile, have been stopped due to the war in Ukraine.

The company said demand for shooting clothing and country wear was “growing satisfactorily” in the UK and overseas.

James Purdey & Sons declined to comment.