by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Queen of Clean Kim Woodburn has urged more firms to follow a young entrepreneur's example and bring manufacturing back to Britain.
The housekeeping television star and runner-up in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, was in the Tunbridge Wells branch of Lakeland to launch a new way of washing clothes.
She is backing Ecoegg, a money-saving and allergy-friendly laundry product invented by Rob Knight, from Maidstone, and his business partner Dawn White.
They previously outsourced manufacturing to China, but have brought it back to the UK, with final assembly on the Isle of Sheppey.
Ms Woodburn said: "It’s flipping marvellous and I wish more companies would do it."
She hit out at UK firms that switched manufacturing to the Far East: "Don't be so greedy and give British people work."
She applauded Mr Knight, who has set up offices in Kings Hill, West Malling, for his determination to succeed. After several retailers turned down his Ecoegg, he contacted her agent and asked if she would try the product. She did and was impressed.
They met at a London cafe because Mr Knight couldn't afford lunch at a posh restaurant. "He took a chance, was mortgaged up to the hilt, but knew in his heart the product was a good one."
Kim decided to back the product, shunning her usual upfront fee in favour of sales-based commission. It has paid off. She sold 23,000 Ecoeggs after seven 12-minute slots on the QVC shopping channel.
The product now stands to do well after Lakeland agreed to stock it in branches across the country.
Mr Knight said: "Kim has made a huge difference to our business. Others wouldn't take us seriously so we needed the credibility that Kim has given us."
Meanwhile, Kim is making a television series for Channel 4 with high street champion Mary Portas and chef Gordon Ramsay about daily life in a London hotel.