We are a company, 119 years young in 2021.
We were founded by Emmanuel Brasch in 1902, in Johannesburg. The company started out as an agency business trading on behalf of Western European manufacturers with a wide and somewhat unusual array of goods ranging from chocolates to women’s underwear.
In 1930, E. Brasch became E Brasch & Son when Victor joined his Dad. Together they managed to steer the company and successfully trade in a time when the textile industry was secondary to mining and agriculture. Fortunately for them the economic policies implemented by the Government in the mid-1920s provided some protection to the textile industry, which together with increased production during the war-effort paved the way for a boom in the industry which lasted for many years after the war.
In 1936, the year of Johannesburg’s Golden Jubilee, E Brasch & Son took occupation of new offices in Ottawa House located at No. 1 President Street, in the Johannesburg CBD; they would occupy these premises for the next 45 years.
From the time Victor joined the company, he successfully ran an agency called the Waverley Blanket Agency. Waverley is a well known blanket brand established in the late 1800s that still exists today. In 1956 the Frame Group of Companies, owned by textile giant and pioneer Philip Frame, bought the factories that Victor had represented. E. Brasch & Son continued to stock the Waverley brand, as can be seen on a copy of a rare SA Woollen Mill price list from 1957.
Throughout the sixties the company continued to take on new agencies and expanded the range of products sold to the retailers.
The staff compliment went from 3 to 4 when Chris Rayner joined the company in 1968 at the age of 22. Over the next decade or so, Chris would be instrumental in repositioning the company as a distributor of handy-craft products mainly for women. At this time the business started trading as Brasch Hobby.
Chris eventually bought the company from Victor Brasch in 1981 and at the same time relocated from Ottawa House in President Street, which was occupied since 1936, to La Rochelle Road on the outskirts of the Johannesburg city.
Through his extensive travels and attending many craft fairs across the world, Chris built an extensive international network and through this was able to introduce a vast range of new products, for distribution, that realised the goal of officially establishing Brasch Hobby as a Wholesale Distributor of craft products both nationally and internationally.
During this time, Chris purchased the building we still occupy today in Loveday Street South, Selby. We have two factories and a small retail shop occupying the ground floor with our warehouse and admin offices situated on the first floor.
In 1996, Brasch Hobby proudly achieved a milestone when we received recognition from the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). We were awarded with a certificate acknowledging our 50 years of membership with the JCCI, ironically the year Brasch joined the JCCI is the same year that Chris Rayner was born.
As with Victor joining his Dad’s business many years before, Chris’s son, Adam joined Brasch in 1997. Adam worked his way around all the departments to gain an overall understanding of the business and eventually took over the manufacturing side.
In 1999, Basil Lentner joined the company as the National Sales Manager. Basil brought with him a wealth of experience from the banking industry and strong “cold-call selling” skills. With a team of 15 Sales Representatives across the country, Basil took the business to greater heights. Within 5 years, Basil and his team managed to increase the number of retail customers to well over 2000
Over time, Chris, Basil & Adam successfully expanded the range and Brasch Hobby was now manufacturing liquids and paints under our brand “Genuine Heritage Craft Products”.
In 2001 Basil was appointed as Managing Director and with his vast experience and business knowledge, Chris, decided to take a back seat in the business and assumed the role of mentor.
The following eight years saw the business flourish under Basil’s leadership; we continued to expand and manufacture a wide range of products for distribution and also grew the range of good quality, imported lines. During this time we also started exhibiting at a trade show in Hong Kong, this saw our export trade gain momentum and over time this exposure has proved extremely beneficial to the brand internationally.
A strategic change was necessary in 2009 / 10 when the recessionary period took its toll on many shops and businesses around the world. Prior to 2009, 70% of our turnover was either imported or procured locally, this together with a reduction in our product range was changed to rather manufacture 70% of turnover in-house, a strategy that we have successfully continued to employ.
We consider ourselves as the leading craft manufacturer in South Africa with our products available in leading retail shops across the country. Our Brand is also international with distribution in Poland, Korea, Hong Kong, UK, India, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
We are also proud that the Heritage Craft brand and products are on show at the famous Frankfurt Craft Fair which is held every year in January.
We are proudly South African and today employ in excess of sixty people.
The company now trades as Heritage Craft Products.
We are proud of our rich history and brand and will continue to manufacture and distribute quality “Genuine Heritage Craft Products” both nationally and internationally.