Magazine article Management Today

Giroflex

Magazine article Management Today

Giroflex

Article excerpt

Product quality is paramount for Mino Vernaschi, managing director of giroflex. 'The day we start competing on price is the day we start to die as a business,' he says. The business makes the sort of office seating one sees every day, and a typical chair sells for around [pounds]300, although many cost more - prices of [pounds]700 to [pounds]1,600 are not uncommon. Chairs from giroflex - as this writer can confirm - are extraordinarily comfortable.

The business manufactures them under licence from the Swiss company Albert Stoll Giroflex, and much of the price difference goes into design and components that achieve that comfort: 45% of the purchase spend, for example, goes to specialist component firms in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

But the 'well-engineered' label applies equally to the factory's manufacturing systems, which - in the words of one of the judges - 'use simple flows and simple systems to take a relatively complex product and make it both manufacturable and profitable'. Chairs take about two hours to make, and go through the factory in a day. Unusually, the factory is loaded in postcode order, to optimise distribution. Since a management buyout last year ago, Vernaschi and operations director Peter Hurley have invested heavily in automating the things it makes sense to automate and making everything else as flexible as possible. …

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