Gratnells turns 50 in fine form


Hitting a 50th anniversary is a rare thing these days for a British manufacturer but we are doing just that in 2021 and we have ambitious plans for the future. Based in Harlow, we are best known as the manufacturer of the iconic school storage tray that is used in most UK schools and exported to 68 other countries around the globe. We employ around 50 staff members between office and factory roles, most of whom are local to the Harlow plant. As well as the school trays, we also makes a wide range of storage furniture, popular not only in schools but in industry and healthcare settings too.

Gratnells is a family-run company that can trace its roots all the way back to 1890s Shoreditch though the current Gratnells Company was incorporated fifty years ago in 1971. Back then, we focused heavily on the schools market launching the slotted square tube storage frame, still in production today. The F type shallow plastic storage tray was launched in 1985 and is now used as the standard for the development of most school furniture worldwide. In 2017, Gratnells opened its first international subsidiary in the USA and it continues to grow internationally with staff now based locally in mainland Europe and in the Far East.

2020 saw a renewed focus on the healthcare range for obvious, pandemic related reasons and we were proud to have been able to supply equipment to the NHS, including the NHS Nightingale London in record time. We also introduced an antimicrobial range for the schools market. This range uses the same technology as the healthcare products and can help to minimise the spread of surface contamination in the classroom. 2021 has already started with increased interest in the compact medical trolley as the vaccination programme is rolled out around the globe.

Gratnells predicts sustained interest in antimicrobial products well after 2021 and we are continuing to invest in our engineering division with recent acquisitions of laser cutting, tube bending and injection moulding machinery. Gratnells Managing Director, Murray Hudson, commented “We’re proud to operate a modern manufacturing business here in Harlow. The strength of our products and the dedication of our people helped us obtain ISO 9001 accreditation and a prestigious Manufacturing Guild Mark from the Furniture Maker’s Company. We’re immensely proud of that and I firmly believe that continued investment in machinery, new products and people will prepare us well for the next 50 years and beyond.”

We are planning a series of events to mark the big 50 later this year and hope that the vaccine rollout will be cause for double celebrations in 2021.

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