Client projects: ESP - Growing Local

Essential Supply Products Ltd (ESP) is one of the leading independent manufacturers and converters of disposable tissue products in the UK.  The company was formed in 1990 in Worcestershire and prides itself on being a local employer, with over 95% of staff from the county community.


They had operated and grown in 4 separate sites around Worcestershire when, in 2007, they started searching for suitable land or premises to amalgamate all areas into one location. An available 19 acre site in local Blackmore Park seemed ideal. Having been founded on a passion for community heritage and sustainability, the opportunity to move to one site and yet maintain a local presence was too good to miss.

The site was perfect for the development of new production facilities and already contained a shell of a new office building, suitable for ESP’s administrative needs.

“The interior of the building wasn’t much more than a grey box”, explains Isla Buchanan, ESP Project Manager. “Although it was new, it wasn’t very attractive and we wanted a building to attract and retain local staff. We didn’t want it to feel like a sterile business park, so set about designing the interior to reflect our culture and look our best.”


At first Isla looked for support from local furniture dealers, in keeping with the desire to use neighbourhood suppliers wherever possible.

“We had a few dealers propose furniture to us but it all felt too formulaic. They just looked at our blue logo and made proposals based on big assumptions about what we’d like, either very expensive or very cheap, with a mix of brands. It lacked an engagement with the project. So we decided to head for London and seek more expert advice. Having searched for the leading quality manufacturers based in Clerkenwell, which we’d learnt was the hub of the furniture market, we extensively researched websites and looked for true manufacturers, with a complete offering, who seemed genuinely interested in their client’s goals. We made appointments with 3 or 4 of them and discovered that Kinnarps seemed the most genuine fit to work with. The Kinnarps showroom was different in that it showed us how settings would actually look… our MD saw their boardroom and said ‘this is what I want’. It was refreshing to be able to picture what our offices might look like, rather than just view sample products.”


Isla was also conscious that she was working to a budget and difficult choices had to be made.

“Our MD was keen to embrace some of the vitality of the Google-type office – at one stage we even discussed having a slide between floors – but you have to be realistic and with limited budget we set about to buy intelligently. What Kinnarps enabled us to do was find a variety of styles within a fixed budget. They advised us well too. When we had a stated vision of no below desk storage we soon realised the practicality of having a little storage made sense. But rather than have to issue everyone with a full pedestal, we opted for half pedestals which fitted the need perfectly.”


With ESP’s commitment to local procurement front of mind, the decision to go with a furniture supplier who manufactured in Sweden was an interesting choice.

“81% of the build and fit out was procured locally,” says Isla. “Something we are very proud of. If we had to go ‘beyond local’, we wanted to be sure the concession was justifiable and fitted our own corporate responsibility, so the chosen supplier would have to demonstrate exemplary environmental standards. Although we were going much further afield for furniture, the high-value sustainability credentials of Kinnarps more than outweighed our concerns that our principles might be compromised.”


“The order processing was smooth and efficient and I looked forward to the delivery. I have to say the Kinnarps fitters were superb. They arrived when they said they would, on time and were very courteous. Unlike some suppliers, these guys worked a full day and were keen to get the job done. I had to force them to accept a cup of tea and a break! It was also great to see all the packaging being taken away and returned to their factory for reuse. We were left with nothing but a shiny new office.

I have already recommended Kinnarps to 5 or so local companies and the local Council when they visited.”

Asked if she felt like a Kinnarps Ambassador now, Isla replied – “That’s how customers should be. When you get good service you pass the experience on to others. It’s part of our community and business ethos.”


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