Both ends of the Silk Road converged in Parliament recently, when local MP, David Rutley, met with Macclesfield silk manufacturer, Ron Smart, and two of his Chinese colleagues.
Mr Smart, whose company, R A Smart, produces silk ties and other accessories, was joined by Edmond Chan and Francis Lo, who were visiting the UK to promote the silk trade between Macclesfield and China. The group enjoyed a tour of the Palace of Westminster, and met with David to discuss the continued importance of the historic links between Macclesfield and China. David was pleased to learn first-hand about the popularity of Macclesfield-made silk products in Hong Kong and mainland China, and the importance still attached to the ancient Silk Road. Mr Chan and Mr Lo explained that the strong brand associated with Macclesfield’s silk heritage is a key factor in helping to promote sales.
Before their visit to Parliament, Mr Chan and Mr Lo visited HMP Styal, to see R A Smart’s Prison Work Group, which sees inmates being paid to assist in hand-stitching the company’s high quality silk products, helping them to acquire new skills at the same time. The programme is progressing well, with plans underway to increase the scale of activities by introducing sewing machines and kitchen textile products.
Speaking after the meeting, David said, “I pay tribute to Ron for flying the flag for Macclesfield in China and elsewhere, and it is great to hear that his business continues to go from strength to strength. As this visit demonstrated, forging closer ties between Macclesfield and China, at either end of the Silk Road, is just as important as ever. I will keep on actively working with Ron and Macclesfield Town Council to promote our town’s rich silk heritage and develop further opportunities to build stronger ties between Macclesfield and China.”