The Natural Bag Company was started by Simon Pritchard in 2005, following a family tradition in jute spanning 4 generations and almost 100 years. His great grandfather, J Mackenzie Stewart began importing raw jute for the Dundee mills in 1911, a time when Dundee was world famous for jute production. There were dozens of mills all over Dundee and this led to the city being known as Juteopolis. The company continued in family ownership under the leadership of Simon’s grandfather from the 1940s through to the late 1980s.
Simon, who joined the company in 1983, learnt the jute trade from the roots upwards by living for a time in Bangladesh. During his time there he stayed and worked at various jute mills around the country as well as spending a month in Dhaka with the company's agent. With the changing nature of the jute industry over the past 20 years Simon decided to start up a new company, The Natural Bag Company with the emphasis on supplying ethically sourced jute bags and packaging to the UK market.
The new company has continued to go from strength to strength, earning a reputation for attention to detail and for making the whole buying process simple and stress free.
We are the only bag company in the UK that has such a long history in the jute industry. Shown below are extracts from the very first ledger of the family company showing sales on the first day of trading in 1911. Most deals in these days were for bales of raw jute, sourced from East and West Bengal in India and sold on to some of the dozens of jute mills that were operating in Dundee in the early 1900s. One record shows a sale to Cox Brothers at Camperdown Works, which was once the largest jute mill in the World.
By the 1950s this title had been passed to the Adamjee jute mill in what is now Bangladesh. My grandfather is pictured in Narayanganj in 1957 with Mr Wahed Adamjee, the mill owner.
As a family we always try to give something back to the people of the Indian Sub-Continent. In 1998, following a devastating series of floods in Bangladesh, we paid for a new village to be built on a rare piece of high ground (in this instance "high" means 3 or 4 metres above sea level). Stewart Village, as it is known, was opened by the British High Commissioner. We now support Calcutta Rescue, a charity based in Kolkata which helps the underprivilidged people of that city with education and healthcare. We have a dedicated charity page here.