Hambleside gets caddies down to a tea

caddyHambleside Danelaw mainly earns its crust by designing and manufacturing products for the building industry from glass reinforced polyester (GRP) and injection moulded or vacuum formed plastics.  But in the true traditions of many British manufacturers, it has always been innovative and flexible in responding to challenging demands elsewhere. Hambleside Danelaw’s sister company, Hambleside Merchandise picked up an unusual online procurement request from Twinings last July for making bespoke tea storage jars – or caddies for Costa coffee shops.

Hambleside Merchandise approached Hambleside Danelaw with the brief from Twinings following several unsuccessful trials with 15 prototypes hand fabricated from cast acrylic.  Using acrylic for the tea caddies was the original idea from Twinings but it was too heavy, costly and fragile for the practicalities of working in the Costa environment.  A lightweight more robust material was needed and we established with the customer that injection moulded polycarbonate was a better alternative to hand fabricated acrylic for this application.  Not only was it lightweight but a third of the cost, clear, robust and shatterproof.

With proven in-house capability for design, detailed technical drawings and for seeking approval of technical data for safety certification, Hambleside Danelaw was able to undertake manufacturing at its own British facilities.  Before our moulding machines went into action, there were final discussions with Twinings about the thickness of the jar’s lid which was redesigned to give the illusion of being solid, where in fact it was produced in two parts and hollow reducing the weight of the lid from 230 grams to just 100 grams. Dimensions were agreed which guaranteed ease of use for the barista.

The end design resulted in the caddies being tapered to allow for removal off the shelf. Once all the design details had been agreed and technical drawings signed off, Hambleside Danelaw approached Great Central Plastics, a local firm that manufactures high quality promotional plastic injection moulded products to produce the bespoke tooling.  Production began in early December and within two weeks, 6,400 pieces had been made in sets of four.  When bases and lids were manufactured, a custom fit FDA silicone gasket was made to produce an air tight hygienic seal.  The labels were printed locally on clear self-adhesive vinyl and individually hand applied to the caddies by a team at Hambleside Danelaw.

All of the caddies were in place on 6th January and they are now clearly visible in the Costa outlets.  The Twinings team visited over 100 stores to check on quality and feedback has been extremely positive.  Today if you go into any of Costa’s 1,600 stores across the UK, you can buy Twinings teas as an alternative to your normal mocha, latte or espresso.  What’s more, they are beautifully displayed behind the counter and made easily accessible to the baristas in the new caddies.  Previously the loose teabags were stored in boxes out of view at the back of the store, but now Twinings’ profile within Costa has risen substantially because the caddies have provided eye-catching visibility for the new flavours. The second production run has just been completed and an additional 1,600 caddies have been sent out to stores. Twinings will also be using the caddies as a standard item to display their product in hotels and leisure centres, not just in Costa coffee shops.

Work has recently begun on the development of future versions of the tea caddy for Twinings and Hambleside has been granted permission to promote the jars as merchandise for storage of other products. This project is a fantastic example of how the diverse companies within the Hambleside Group can work together using specific skills and competencies.