Our Clients: Vale Brothers

Vale Brothers

Vale Brothers LogoVale Brothers Limited is a world renowned and respected Saddler by appointment to the Queen.

It has been in business since 1786 and makes a large range of premium bespoke, fitted saddles for sale across the world.

It owns and trades through the widely known Harry Dabbs range and also makes the largest range of horse whips in the world with some 1,500 different whips.

Through acquisition it now owns the Thermatex range of clothing and horse rugs and in early 2015 acquired E Jeffries, a renowned saddler and specialist handbag manufacturer (Brady Bags). Peter Wilkes is currently President of the Society of Master Saddlers.

Vale Brothers Download a PDF copy of the case study.

Vale Brothers

The power of Auditel lies in the range of expertise that exists within its 200 strong network of affiliates. With knowledge and experience of almost all sectors of the economy spread across the network, Auditel can call on industry experts to examine a huge and diverse range of cost areas.

A lack of in-house procurement skills

In 2014, Peter Wilkes, MD of Vale Brothers Ltd, appointed Auditel to perform a comprehensive review of its entire cost base.

“What we liked about the Auditel offering was that with their range of experts they were able to offer total flexibility. They could take on any cost that we asked them to and we knew that someone with relevant industry experience was talking to our incumbent supplier and potential new suppliers. My team does not have the time to perform the vast amount of work that Auditel undertook. They provided focus and pace to make sure the job got done. It was all done with very little fuss although they were always careful to involve us when we needed to make a decision.” – Peter Wilkes, MD, Vale Brothers

He explains, ‘We knew that as a company we were very good at growing the customer base and producing top quality products, but we recognised that we didn’t necessarily possess the management skills in house to procure the best deals and tightly manage suppliers. Some of our relationships were long standing and we suspected there might be savings to be made.’

A complex cost base

Across its three divisions, Vale Brothers has acquired a diverse set of complex products over the years, which require a disparate range of raw materials. This has led to a complex and challenging supplier base.

The Saddlery industry in the UK has its centre in Walsall where about sixty different companies are located within a few square miles.

For many products one or two local suppliers serve almost the entire marketplace, although other quality suppliers do exist elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

In addition to the already complex cost base, Auditel had to take into account the ongoing takeover of a similar sized competitor (E Jeffries) and how the two sets of costs would be subsequently merged.

A comprehensive review

After discussing a plan of action, it was agreed that Auditel would handle the procurement routines whilst the client retained control of signing off on quality.

Auditel set to work on key raw materials such as leather supplies – hides, soft hides and calf skin used in the making of saddles; acrylic yarn for the Thermatex horse rugs; clothing supplies, and plywood.

Auditel sector specialists were brought in to review Freight, Couriers and Packaging to ensure that the client received the very best attention and access to industry expertise. As a result, 19% savings were found in the area of freight/overseas shipping costs.


Working closely with Vale Brothers’ management team advising on quality requirements, Auditel researched the market for a range of suppliers, ran a competitive tender process and reported and analysed the results.

Leather suppliers were contacted in Germany and Italy as well as in the UK and samples were obtained for quality review by the management team. Acrylic yarn suppliers are in short supply in the UK, but Auditel’s investigations unearthed new suppliers to enter a tender process and one of these was duly appointed.


Auditel then turned their attention to Gas, Electric, Merchant Card fees and Phones. With two of their three factories along with Jefferies’ moving into a single bigger building, these costs had to be renegotiated carefully for the new premises. This relocation allowed Auditel to renegotiate current contracts and achieve very commercial rates.

Vale Brothers Download a PDF copy of the case study.