From 1966, the company underwent a number of changes of ownership, during which the business was merged with Royal Worcester.
The final decades of the 20th Century saw immense changes in the methods of decorating ceramics in all factories. These made obsolete many of the traditional techniques, which Spode had been at the forefront of developing in earlier times. The highly skilled but slow and costly process of engraving could be replaced by computerised design, which produced output almost indistinguishable from the earlier engraved designs; Developments in lithographic printing for ceramics meant that full-colour images could be transferred onto wares and fired at a single firing. The effect of this was in some important respects the de-skilling of the manufacturing process and the commoditisation of output.
Spode maintained small pockets of its traditional skills right to the end, including engraving and hand painting onto chinawares - indeed some of the famous Royal Worcester flower and fruit patterns were hand-painted by Spode artists at Stoke. It also introduced many high-quality commemorative series, such as English Cathedrals and Military Regiments, which were recognised as design masterpieces, as well as classic patterns such as Stafford Flowers, Trapnell Sprays and Woodland, and the Blue Room collection, reproductions of blue-printed designs from the Nineteenth Century.
From 2007 much of Spode’s manufacture was outsourced to the Far East, not always to the delight of Spode’s customers, and after some 230 years of continuous operation – possibly the longest for any factory in Britain – the historic Spode works closed in 2008. Fortunately, the business was subsequently acquired by Portmeirion Group plc, who have returned much Spode production to their own works just a couple of hundred yards from Josiah Spode’s original factory. Spode products, some of whose designs date back 200 years, are now once again made in Britain, in Stoke, and to the same quality as before.