THE launch of the new Designer Emporium at Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, has been a massive success, says owner Roger Saul.
‘I’m absolutely thrilled with the result of the launch weekend. People came from far and wide and the feedback has been tremendous. Everyone commented on the friendly atmosphere and fantastic bargains on offer.’
The Designer Emporium launched with a two-day Grand Sale with up to 80% off top fashion brands, homeware and plants, plus a pop-up restuarant. More than 3,000 people attended the two-day event.
The launch marks the first phase of Roger Saul’s plans to invest £10M in transforming Kilver Court into the UK’s leading designer shopping experience.
‘The launch event exceeded our targets and we are now forging ahead with the regeneration plans,’ added Roger, who founded fashion brand Mulberry 40 years ago and more recently created the Sharpham Park food brand.
‘The Designer Emporium continues and the first independent shop will be in place by October. In November we will hold another weekend Grand Sale.’
Kilver Court is already known for its gorgeous secret garden, wellness centre and the Sharpham Park Farm Shop, and the Designer Emporium adds an exciting new element this summer. It’s definitely the hot tip of the season for everyone who loves fashion.
HISTORY OF KILVER COURT
Kilver Court is in the heart of Somerset, nestling on the edge of the historic town of Shepton Mallet. Once the site of the biggest woollen mill in the area, the last 100 years have seen its use change from lace and machine manufacture to drinks production and finally designer fashion.
Shepton Mallet has been a cross roads for commerce for centuries, starting with the Roman Fosseway passing through. Its early history, as its name suggests, was based on sheep and the wool trade. By 1500 a thriving textile industry had grown up and Kilver Court was at its centre. However this wealth floundered in the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800s as the Luddites torched mills throughout the valley.
In the mid 19th Century Ernest Jardine, a successful lace and silk maker from Nottingham, bought the site and set out to restore production. He also created the Gardens as a recreational space for his factory workers, the old millpond became an ornamental lake with wildfowl and even a small rowing boat for their use. They were known as Jardine’s Park and Vegetable Gardens. By 1907, 128 people were employed producing lace-making machinery.
The Showering family have made cider in Shepton Mallet for over 200 years, and set up their first brewery behind the former Ship Inn, which sits at the front of the current Kilver Court site. In 1947 they produced the iconic champagne perry known as Babycham, which became a huge success. In 1960 the gardens were re-landscaped based on the Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning design of George Whiteleg.
Showerings’ success took them to great heights in the drinks industry; eventually Kilver Court became the headquarters of Allied Domecq, one of the biggest companies in the UK drinks industry. Part of the original brewery in Kilver Street opposite still remains and is today a thriving cider making business, ‘The Somerset Cider Company’, owned by Magners.
In 1996, Roger Saul was looking for a new home for Mulberry, which had outgrown its factory offices in nearby Chilcompton. He acquired Kilver Court and it became the home for Mulberry and its world famous factory shop. Roger once again redesigned the garden adding his own touch, but still retaining the patina of the past.
Kilver Court gardens are framed by the breathtaking sculpture of The Charlton Viaduct, built in 1874 to take the Somerset and Dorset Railway across the valley. The ‘S&D’ or ‘slow and dirty’ as it was affectionately known was eventually closed by Dr Beeching in 1966. Today it still towers over the garden, the largest national Grade II listed monument viaduct in Britain.
Roger has a track record for creating brands and building businesses from scratch to million pound turnover. He founded the British designer brand Mulberry in 1971 and took it to international brand status with sales of over
£30m. He acquired the Kilver Court site in 1996 as the headquarters of Mulberry and its factory shop. In 1996 he bought Charlton House Hotel and created the first designer brand hotel and spa, achieving a Michelin star in its first year. In 2007 he started the Sharpham Park food spelt brand, now one of the leading organic food companies selling to Waitrose and stores nationally.