All bids were assessed on quality and cost and 3 were short-listed, including Kinnarps. Each candidate was then asked to mock up an office scenario using a show suite of 20 different items that they were proposing. This included desking, seating, and storage – all in a sports centre near Bristol. And then came what was probably the biggest acid test of all – a trial by user! South Gloucestershire Council staff examined the furniture, tried it out, and asked questions, marking each show suite as they went. “The staff opted for Kinnarps”, says Project Manager Gerald Wood. “It was their favourite because it was the most comfortable and colourful, and they loved the natural wood finishes.”
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Of course, Kinnarps wasn’t awarded the contract on the furniture alone. There were other considerations... “In the tender”, Wood continues, “Kinnarps had to demonstrate how they would help us adhere to our sustainability policy. Having strict sustainability policies of their own, that wasn’t too much of a challenge for them. Amongst many other things, Kinnarps plants more trees than it uses in the manufacture of its furniture and uses recycled wood products to build its products. No cases are used during delivery – everything is carried into the building in blankets.”
In addition to sustainability, cost, quality and service were key criteria for the success of the project. Looking at cost and quality first, the Council wanted to establish lifetime costs for the furniture based on warranty periods. Because of the durability and quality of the Kinnarps product, they were able to offer lifetime costings that were, according to Wood, “streets ahead” of their competitors.
When it came to service, Kinnarps had less than one month to install 750 workstations, break-out areas, meeting spaces and a cafeteria. Working closely with the Council, Kinnarps transformed their vision into reality, with Series T desking, goal post screens, XD storage, 6000 range chairs, Series E pedestals, Arriba break-out chairs and Mayflower cafe furniture.
Many of the Council staff were being relocated from old buildings with small, cramped rooms, and the new open plan look was a revelation. In keeping with the “work smarter” philosophy, electronic filing and storage was embraced, along with “hot-desking”: no more private desks, but workstations that can be used by anyone, and adjusted to their own height for optimum ergonomics.
Whilst South Gloucestershire Council is a new client for Kinnarps, they had an existing relationship with Gerald Wood going back some 23 years. He concludes, “Throughout all these years, Kinnarps have remained consistent, relevant, and value for money, delivering quality, intelligent advice, and customer service. I’m delighted to be working with them yet again for South Gloucestershire Council.”