Gripple is a Sheffield-based, Queens Award-winning manufacturer of a wire joining and tensioning device – the Gripple – which connects wires and holds them tight.
Since launching the Gripple in 1988, the company has developed more than 100 new products and has an annual turnover of more than £39m, 85% of which comes from exports to more than 80 countries.
Though already a successful design-led manufacturer, in 2007 Gripple’s management team was ambitious for further growth and eager to ensure design and new product development was managed as effectively as possible. Gripple looked for help at Design Council, where Design Associate Andy Cripps was assigned to work with them.
Cripps’ first step was to lead a workshop at which all aspects of the business were analysed. This highlighted a number of key issues. “We needed to think through how we did what we did more clearly and develop new frameworks to do it better,” said Gordon Macrae, Gripple’s Special Projects manager. There was room for improvement when it came to how the business managed design, too, and an opportunity to better harness innovation at all levels within the organisation.
What we did
Cripps began by helping the team identify key projects which could add value to the business. He also took them through a review of new product development which identified opportunities for streamlining. As a result, these changes were implemented, enabling the company to get a feel for whether a particular product idea was viable earlier in its development.
Design Council arranged for Gripple’s management team to visit the London headquarters of Innocent Drinks to garner ideas of how to design a more stimulating working environment. £40k was invested in upgrading Gripple’s Ideas and Innovation Centre to make this dedicated product design area more creatively inspiring. An internal reorganisation then aligned the centre more closely with the marketing department, enabling designers to better respond to customers’ needs.
Inspired by the initial workshop, another project captured and encouraged innovative thinking within the company through a Dragon’s Den-inspired competition. An internal innovation prize called ‘Grinnovate’ was also introduced to inspire staff.
Innovation is at the heart of what we believe the business is about but it doesn’t just come from designers or marketers. Anyone can have a great idea, but to make the most of them you need a framework to bring people together.
Gordon Macrae, Special Projects Manager, Gripple
Today, Gripple’s products are coming to market faster and productivity has improved. Turnover has grown 2.5 times from £15m in 2007 to £39m in 2014.
Macrae said: “Our growth since 2007 has been extraordinary, averaging out at 10% a year. This can be put down to the strengthened focus we have on new product development. This is the most important impact of the design support we received from Design Council - we now have a 10-strong innovation team delivering 25% of our turnover every year from products less than four years old.”
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