Rock–Paper–Scissors: 3 Traditional British Firms That Still Dominate

It’s a sign of the times that digital enterprises often dominate entrepreneurial headlines. However, it’s a mistake to think that traditional companies selling established products are old hat. The quality of what they can still offer, combined with consistent customer service makes their staying power enviable.

So, if you’re ready to play rock — paper — scissors, these three bespoke British firms can show you how to win.

three unique British firms that bring old world charm to modern business

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When you’re looking for a business with firm foundations, stone and aggregate supplier Marchington Stone is a great example.

Based in Stockport, they’ve been supplying the UK construction, civil engineering and landscaping sectors with high-quality products since 1970 — working on a number of high-profile projects including the Manchester Airport relief road and Heathrow terminal 3 expansion.

They sell a wide range of stone products, from construction aggregates like pipe bedding to finished natural stone products like pitched face walling and sills — with a delivery fleet capable of reaching every nook and cranny of the country.

But what might set them apart from competitors is the fact that they’ve got their own quarry — so there’s always a steady supply of high quality Buff Derbyshire millstone grit to satisfy customers.


Paper is still big business in Britain — it’s often the preferred material for a range of applications, including food and retail packaging.

Bespoke paper providers James Cropper have been in the business since 1845 — so they’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade along the way.

Current leader Sir James Cropper is a master paper maker and applies generations of expertise and customer service to creating tailor made paper products for luxe brands like Selfridges and Dolcelicious.

The artisan firm specialises in niche card and paper for discerning clients — but they’ve also developed a facility for up-cycling coffee cups that has the potential to process 500 million units a year and are working with brands like McDonalds and Costa to reduce their carbon footprints.


We shouldn’t take scissors for granted — without them we’d have to become black belts in origami or practice precision tearing.

Scissors and shears specialist William Whitely has been producing superb products since 1760, with a competitive edge that’s perpetually sharp.

Founded in steel capital Sheffield, the firm sells every type of scissors under the sun — from left-handed models to sets for surgical applications. And it serves the DIY, upholstery, craft and hairdressing sectors, amongst others.

It now incorporates Thomas Wilkinson & Son, another company with a proud history in the same field — both were awarded consecutive medals in the Great Exhibitions held in London and Paris, in 1851 and 1855 respectively.

These three bespoke British firms prove there are many ways to win at rock — paper — scissors. Follow their lead if you want to win in business.

Do you work in traditional industry? Share your thoughts in the comments section.