East Anglia: TV ‘dragon’ Deborah Meaden backs design campaign

THE head of a Suffolk manufacturing company near Sudbury has joined Dragons’ Den panel member Deborah Meaden in urging more firms in East Anglia to take advantage of a Design Council programme which aims to boost innovation, sales and jobs.

Hadleigh-based Challs International, which makes the Buster range of plughole cleaning products, was among the first companies to take part in the Designing Demand initiative when it was launched by the Design Council nine years ago.

Since then, the company has almost quadrupled its annual turnover to around �6million and, with a factory extension due to be officially opened next week, it plans to double in size again over the next three years.

Having previously been run through the regional development agencies, which are now being abolished, the Designing Demand programme is being relaunched, with entrepreneur, TV “dragon” and Design Council trustee Deborah Meaden spearheading the campaign.Key to the programme, she said, was the message that “design” is not simply about sketching on a piece of paper but involves a company’s entire approach to the way in which it does business.

“A good business is a well-designed business, from inception through to product,” she added.

Challs director Graham Burchell said a design-inspired rebranding and repackaging of its products had been the catalyst behind its growth, creating a point of difference and enabling it to secure listings with major supermarket chains on whose shelves it had previously struggled to gain space alongside larger competitiors.

“We have seen increased profits and are now trading with every major supermarket in the UK as well as internationally,” he added. “I would encourage any business in East Anglia to consider design as a way to stimulate growth.”

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For details of the programme, visit www.designcouncil.org.uk/designingdemand . Applications close at the end of October.