Mike Bennett runs a small firm called Bennett Silks in Stockport, Greater Manchester, which has been in his family since his great-grandfather set it up in 1904.
The company employs 15 people, and has, in normal times, an annual turnover of about £2.5m. It operates in what Bennett describes as “a niche market at the top end of fashion”. The silk is produced in a region of China that has precisely the right climate for the mulberry tree to prosper. Silk worms feed on mulberry leaves.
The company imports the silk, then sells to a wide range of industries, from the makers of wedding dresses to film-makers, theatres, high-end boutiques, firms that manufacture clothes for jockeys to wear at race meetings, and people who want special garments made for parties.