Viners have a long and illustrious history as a family of silversmiths specialising as a hollowware manufacturer from the late 19th century.
The Viener brothers were commercial travellers selling items such as jewellery, fancy wares and cutlery. Their trade in cutlery led to contacts with Sheffield firms. On moving to Sheffield in the early 1900s, the brothers Willie and Emile Viener set up in business together in 1908 as W. & E. Viener, occupying Tiger Works in West Street, Sheffield. After establishing the business they were also joined by their brothers Adolf and Max.
In 1912 the business moved to Broomspring works, Bath Street, Sheffield, where the firm was to stay. By this time they had around 60/70 employees. Their principle business at this time was plated hollowware, being one of the first firms to produce this in quantities through the introduction of new devices which lowered cost and increased production.
In 1921 Willie left the business to move into retail and the business changed hands from Willie and Emile Viener to Adolf and Emile.
In 1924 Ruben Viener (Adolf’s son) also joined the business in 1924 on finishing his education. In 1925 Adolf changed his name to Viner and the firm also changed its name to Viners Ltd.
After the First World War the firm diversified into spoon and fork production, specialising in 35% nickel-silver. This combination of metals was the basis of Viners ‘Wearwite’ brand which was its best-selling line until Stainless Steel. This new venture into cutlery required a series of expansions of the Bath Street works e.g. an enlarged casting shop, sheet rolling mill and a room for ‘buffers’.
In 1930 Viners Ltd (Emile Viner) was issued with a Royal Warrant as Cutlers and Silversmiths to King George V. Two years later, Viners purchased Thomas Turner & Co, Suffolk Works and in 1934 Ruben Viner (Adolf’s son) went over to manage the business which ran for 20 years.
By 1935 Viners began making Silverware on a large scale with 75% of silver assayed in Sheffield made by Viners.
In 1953, Adolf became ill and retired, and Ruben who had been managing Thomas Turners and Sons came back to Viners. It was around this time that the firm decided to enter into advertising for the first time; creating canteens for cutlery to be displayed and sold, and advertising in influential paper print media.
‘We were the first firm that did any real marketing. Packaging, too. We made canteens that sold on attraction…we eventually become the largest advertisers in the cutlery sector’ Ruben Viner.
With a clear directive for innovative and cutting edge design, Viners employed a number of eminent designers in the late 50s, 60s and 70s. Gerald Benney who created many classics such as Sable, Chelsea and Studio created pieces which can be still found in homes up and down the country as his ranges were a ‘must have’ item on every wedding list in the 60s. The iconic studio range still has a long and proud history within the Viners portfolio today.
In the 1970s, the leading Silversmith Stewart Devlin created a range of futuristic and high end serveware made of stainless steel and gold plate. With innovative ranges and a growing customer base, Viners decided to advertise directly to consumers with a number of high profile adverts. Viners continued to use newspapers to advertise their products throughout the 80s and 90s and this succeeded in promoting the brand to consumers even when the business changed hands in the mid 80s.
Viners today, is focused on building the brand and developing fashion leading designs. Towards the end of 2015 and for the first time since the 70s, Viners will run an interactive marketing campaign and will be advertising on mainstream TV. The campaign will run from September onwards, helping to promote the brand and its products in the run up to Christmas and beyond.