Award-winning IC Innovations Ltd sprang into being 11 years ago with an invention for displaying Christmas cards.
This product, designed by founder and MD Tristan Cowell, was the start of a Christmas range to which a housewares range was added in 2008. Another five years later a gifting division was launched and is seeing huge growth.
Selected for The Sheffield Business School Small Business of the Year award, IC Innovations moved in to licensed brand product ranges this year and was partnered with BBC Worldwide, with three year contracts in place with BBC Good Food, BBC Gardener’s World and Blue Peter, with other brands coming through for 2017.
The company plans to supply 10,000 outlets in the UK, develop private showrooms and design studios, and purchase sophisticated equipment to quickly turn around samples.
From six members of staff three years ago, the company now has twenty-five. It has bespoke ranges for High Street and grocery customers.
The challenge of supplying the biggest retailers is enormous because the demands of each one require a huge amount of attention to detail and management, said spokeswoman Donna Waldock.
She added: "When a £25m turnover competitor business looked at investing in IC Innovations, their current MD said that what we had done to supply so many big names was actually impossible from a standing start in 2005!"
Theirs is an amazing story.
If an HS2 station is built in Sheffield city centre it may be down to a young Sheffield boss who was invited to 10 Downing Street to give his views on business.
Tristan Cowell, managing director of homewares firm IC Innovations, gave his backing to a high-speed rail stop on the old Victoria station site at an exclusive meeting inside the Prime Minister's home.
He was one of 15 young business leaders invited to the most famous house in Britain to help shape government business policy.
Mr Cowell, aged 34, said he talked about better support for rapidly growing companies such as his, the cost of recruiting, the Northern Powerhouse, exporting and "celebrating what is great about Britain". He leads one of hundreds of organisations who believe the Government should switch the proposed HS2 station from Meadowhall to the City Centre. HS2 Ltd's figures show it would create 6,500 more jobs.
Mr Cowell said: "I brought up the HS2 station. It doesn't make sense that we would have buyers coming up from London and going to Meadowhall."
He spoke to the Prime Minister's Head of Business Engagement, Niamh Mulholland, who said the meeting was organised at the request of the PM. She took notes and promised to relay his views directly to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, Mr Cowell added, "I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the business over the last 10 years. This was one of the things that made it worthwhile. It was a bit of recognition, there are very few people who get to do that. It was a very special feeling but very surreal too."
Before the visit he and his family went through MI5 background checks – and he had to show his passport after knocking on the famous black door.
Inside, he said he saw the famous staircase with portraits of past PMs and stunning rooms with ornate ceilings and fireplaces.
He added: "I think it was organised because the Government is busy doing high level stuff all the time and the PM wanted feedback from business owners running companies."
IC Innovations, based on Attercliffe Road, is a whole-saler of homewares, gifts and seasonal products to big retailers, including John Lewis. It bought the old head-quarters of famous Sheffield metal dealer Tommy Ward in April last year. The firm employs 22, turns over £2m and is set to recruit 10 in the next year.
Mr Cowell said he also spoke about the cost of hiring staff and said it was a brake on growth. The invitation came through Emma Jones, head of Enterprise Nation after he agreed to give a talk in Barnsley.
But it wasn't his first contact with the Camerons. IC Innovations sold a £24.99 cheeseboard to the First Lord of the Treasury - the PM’s official title – at 10 Downing Street, two years ago.
IC Innovations, one of the UK's leading suppliers of Homeware and Gifts are pleased to present a new range of stylish food gifts.
The company will show it's range of entertaining products described as 'perfect for healthy diners' - both indoors and outdoors.
HOSPITAL BULLETIN MAGAZINE
Why have hang ups about infection control?
Hospital Hang Ups are self-adhesive tabs to replace traditional products such as tack, tapes and putty that require hand contact and represent potential infection risks.
IC Innovations new Hospital Hang Ups have a protective liner that enables the user to apply them without their hands contacting the surface that touches the wall. The protective liner is disposed of and the tabs are single use.
The product also has the added benefit of not leaving any residue or removing paintwork both of which resemble a potential infection risk. And by not marking the walls it also reduces maintenance and repainting costs.
Hospital Hang Ups ensure that items displayed on walls comply with the Statutory Hygiene Code. The product was also nominated for the 2008 Building Better Healthcare Awards for Best Interiors Product.
FIRST FOR BUSINESS
HANG UPS FOR HEALTH – Hospital Hang Ups building better healthcare
Sheffield based IC Innovations has launched a new non-marking wall mounting product to help improve infection control in hospitals. Hospital Hang Ups are self-adhesive tabs that replace traditional products such as tack, tapes and putty that require contact from hands to apply and therefore represent potential infection risks. IC Innovations has partnered with the Sheffield based Vasanta Group (formerly Kingfield-Health) as their distributor into the NHS – they have 35,000 delivery points into the health service every week.
The new product has a protective liner which enables the user to apply them without their hands contacting the surface that touches the walls. They can be used to mount notices, signs,posters,leaflets, artwork and much more. The product also has the added benefit of not leaving residue or removing paintwork, both of which resemble a potential infection risk within the NHS.
The Hospital Hang Ups product underwent clinical trials in the NHS within South Yorkshire hospitals in 2006 and 2007. The results were highly successful and the product is now being rolled out to hospitals nationally.
The product was also nominated for the 2008 Building Better Healthcare Awards for `Best Interiors Product` in recognition of the contribution towards enhanced safety for both patients and staff.
Sheffield-based IC Innovations is a consumer product design company that turns innovative ideas into real products.
Nursery industry welcomes new supplier IC Innovations
In the run up to Christmas, IC Innovations adds three new nursery gift products to their award-winning range of innovative and practical products for the modern home.
A 12 framed photo clock in white, baby blue or pink is the perfect gift for the modern home or nursery whilst the original photo height chart enables parents to plot their toddler’s growth from 60cm to 150cm capturing memories of a childhood. Both retailing at £24.99, these make the perfect stocking filler.
Inventive and novel, the new Glow in the Dark Corkboard is a fun way to illuminate a toddler’s bedroom at night. On sale at £19.99, this original gift soothes the anxious toddler, giving a night light with a difference and is easy on the environment – no electricity needed!
This talented new entrant launches their innovative gift range within the nursery mail order sector including Jo Jo Maman Bebé, Urchin, Letterbox and Great Little Trading Company as well a number of independent department stores nationwide and is supported by a national PR campaign.
BUILDING BETTER HEALTHCARE AWARDS
Healthcare interior products play a vital role within the therapeutic environment, and ‘Hospital Hang Ups’ was nominated due to the enhanced safety from infections that is offered for patients, staff and visitors.
It was shown that the product:
- Safety and function - It meets a clearly defined need to display notices, posters and signs in and around hospitals without the need for hand contact on the adhesive, leaving residue or removing paintwork – all of which are a potential infection risk.
- Delivers good value for money at an affordable cost - the product is safe and easy to use and is comparible cost wise with traditonal alternatives such as putty, tack and tapes that are no longer sanctioned for use by the Department of Health.
- Aesthetic quality - It contributes to a healthy, pleasant environment in terms of visual and tactile qualities. Exposed plasterwork and tatty buildings do not help define and create an overall sense of attractiveness. The Hospital Hang Ups product promotes durability, efficiency and ease-of-maintenance of hospitals.
The design values promote cleanliness and hygiene as part of best practice behaviour.
The product is ideal for attractively displaying christmas cards, but can also be used for Birthday and anniversary cards as well as photos, notes and invitations at any time of year.
Such a versatile and re-usable product is a must for every funky home.
Christmas Card Magnetic Rope 'Hang Ups' is an attractive and fully re-usable card display product that consists of a 1.2m / 48″ metal rope with a weighted bottom to keep it straight. Included in the pack are 15 super-strong magnets. This is a product that can be used year after year and doesn`t date. Buy now so that you don`t miss out!
Bright Ideas from Young European Minds
Despite its name, IC Innovations has nothing to do with integrated circuits. Rather, it's an ideas factory...
GARDEN TRADE NEWS
IC Innovations have shown again the versatility and flexibility of their products. Christmas Card Hang Ups is an ideal product for any store as well as garden centres of any size.
Card Hang Ups comes complete in a compact pre-loaded merchandiser which holds 144 units of stock and takes up very little space – 30cm x 40cm ideal for companies with limited sales space.
Fully branded for maximum impact is it any wonder that GIMA picked them as a ideal product for garden centres!
FEATURE IN 'YOURS MAGAZINE'
Magnetic rope promotion in Yours Magazine
In the August edition of Yours magazine, IC Innovations will be supplying 100 of their 'Magnetic Rope Hang Ups' to give away! Normally our 'Magnetic Rope Hang Ups' retail at £5.99 but this would be a perfect opportunity to grab hold of one! The number to call and claim one will be 0900 9441252.
GARDEN AND HARDWARE NEWS
A Glittering Performance at the GIMA Awards in 2007
Over 400 people appeared at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel for the Annual GIMA Dinner and Awards ceremony. These awards are highly prized in the industry, as a result of the quality within the judging panel selected each year. Being selected as a finalist in these awards means a lot to a supplier, and also gives them a factor to build into their forthcoming marketing.
Our Product, Christmas Card Hang Ups, won the award for the Best Christmas Product, this product beat off strong competition from many large, well known and powerful companies.
IC Innovations is one of 20 companies to reach the Northern Regional Final of the 2007 Start Up Stars Awards.
An award winning Sheffield entrepreneur, who last year won £3,000 when he was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Yorkshire and Humberside has now reached the regional finals of the 2007 HSBC Start Up Stars Award. IC Innovations, which started with the quick and easy card display product named Card Hang ups, now has employees in both the UK and the USA.
More new product ideas have followed, and with 6 new product launches each year, IC Innovations is on track beat turnover forecasts.
IC Innovations short listed for HSBC Start-Up Stars Accolade!
Now an established manufacturing and distribution company, IC Innovations continues to go from strength to strength.
The company has continued to extend the product range with the introduction of a number of new display products; Photo Hang Ups, Magnetic Paper, Fridgefiles, Magnetic Rope Hang Ups and many more. These new products are in addition to the ones that are in the pipeline. This is a company that doesn`t stand still and is always developing new products that will interest and excite the consumer!
ESSENTIALS MAGAZINE (LONDON)
IC Innovations and their products have gained a lot of attention from the media and trade press in past years.
Home Editor Astrid Granger asnwers readers questions:
Q: Being a proud Mum, I love to stick my childrens artwork on the fridge, but the mish-mash of magnets holding them up is looking a mess. Can you suggest any other ways I can attached them to keep them on show?
A: I've found the perfect solution for you to try – Fridge Hang Ups. It's a magnetic strip that you simply cut to size, attach to the fridge with its self-adhesive backing and arrange pictures on top of it. It's re-usable too.
DAILY MIRROR (LONDON, UK)
Writing about Christmas Card Hang Ups:
Daily Mirror - "A simple, clever adhesive strip that solves the problems of displaying Christmas cards."
WHOLESALERS AND DISTRIBUTORS
We strive to work with channel partners who have a good fit with specific products.
Please get in touch with us to discuss volume discounts and rebates.
Europe's Young Entrepreneurs
Similar "Eureka" moments made other young entrepreneurs diverge from the safer course of corporate careers into the treacherous waters of a startup. Tristan Cowell's mother was looking for a way to display her Christmas cards, and now the 25-year-old Brit presides over a thriving business that sells all manner of gewgaws for displaying photos on walls, refrigerators, and doors.
YORKSHIRE POST NEWSPAPER (YORKSHIRE, UK)
Former director of Hallmark Cards joins IC Innovations
Graham Davies, a former director of Hallmark Cards, has joined IC Innovations. Product design company IC Innovations flagship product, Card Hang Ups, is designed to hang greeting cards up in the home.
Mr Cowell, Managing Director of IC Innovations said: "Graham bring a whole package to the business – industry contacts, mentoring for myself and strategic advice for the business as we grow and move forward – and we're already making progress."
The partnership has helped the company reach the shortlist of the Start Ups Awards 2006 in the Innovative Business of the Year category.
THE FINANCIAL TIMES (LONDON)
Writing about new inventions from the US in 2005 they said that the Fridgefile, a magnetic filing and message system was: "among the best sellers".
PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE
Card Hang Ups is an innovative product which provides a totally new invisible way for consumers to display greeting cards. Each box contains everything you need, enabling up to 50 cards to be displayed quickly and easily, virtually anywhere in the home while not marking walls.
GIFTS TODAY MAGAZINE
The quick and easy 'invisible' greeting card & photo display products.
A great gift for all ages. See how easy they are to use, how great they look displaying up to 50 cards or photos.
PROGRESSIVE GIFTS & HOME WORLDWIDE
'Card' and 'Photo' Hang ups instantly turn the home into a creative space
"Card Hang Ups solve the annual Christmas card display problem. They allow displays to be created virtually anywhere inthe home and will not mark walls. They can be cut to size – a fantastic gift to someone else or yourself!"
GREETINGS TODAY MAGAZINE
Card Hang Ups – a new solution in domestic greeting card display
Nominated for the 2005 Design and Decoration Awards, Card Hang Ups allows you to display quickly, easily and attractively your cards. Each box contains everything you need to display up to 50 cards.
GIFTS AND HOUSEWARES
Card Hang Ups is an innovative new solution in domestic greeting card display!
Cards can be quickly, easily and attractively displayed in the home. Each box contains everything you need to display up to 50 cards, including all the fixing methods. This enables the displays to be created virtually anywhere in the home without marking painted or wallpapered walls.
IC Innovations – Card Hang Ups one of their most successful products
The Mayor of Harrogate enjoys talking to IC Innovations about Card Hang Ups. Each box of Card Hang Ups contains everything you need to display up to 50 cards, including all the fixing methods. This enables the displays to be created virtually anywhere in the home.
DEPARTMENT STORE MAGAZINE
'Christmas Card Hang Ups' – an innovative solution to the annual problem of Christmas card display
Each box allows you to display up to 50 cards and includes all the fixing methods. This enables the displays to be created virtually anywhere in the homne without marking painted or wall papered walls.
THE GARDEN SHOP CATALOGUE
The quick 'n' easy invisible greeting card display product
This product can be used anywhere in the home to display greeting cards. It doesn't mark the walls and takes just minutes to create and seconds to remove.
To solve the problem for displaying Christmas Cards quickly and easily use Christmas Card Hang Ups!
This product was used last year at Number 10 Downing Street and nominated for the 2005 Design & Decoration Awards.
GREETINGS TODAY MAGAZINE
The quick and easy 'INVISIBLE' card display product.
Until now there has not been an attractive alternatie – solves the domestic Christmas card display problem. Can be uses virtually anywhere in the home without marking the walls.
GARDEN & HARDWARE NEWS
Card Hang Ups can be used virtually anywhere in the home without marking painted or wall-papered walls!
Card Hang Ups from IC Innovations are a new solution to hanging domestic greeting cards, particularly useful during the Christmas period. Each box contains everything required to display up to 50 cards.
THE TIMES NEWSPAPER (LONDON)
Writing about Christmas Card Hang Ups they called it "a more sophisticated solution".
Card Hang Ups display Christmas cards quickly and attractively virtually anywhere in the home without marking walls or the need for hooks.
Each pack has everything needed to hang 50 greeting cards. This is a innovative idea which has already been used in 10 Downing Street.
GIFTS & HOUSEWARES MAGAZINE
Card Hang Ups – a quick and easy greetings card display product has arrived...
IC Innovations development and launch of this product has made it the success it is today. Has been used at Number 10 and Number 11 Downing Street. It is simple to use, non marking and can be used almost anywhere to display Christmas cards.
Try Card Hang Ups to display your cards this Christmas
Attaching your Christmas Cards couldn't be easier. Using lengths of sticky fabrics to display your cards, just cut to the desired length attach your cards and hang. Each box can display up to 50 cards.
WOMAN'S WEEKLY MAGAZINE
"Card Hang Ups – a quick and easy to use display product"
Card hang ups contains everything you need to display your Christmas Cards this Christmas. It can display upto 50 cards.
WEB EXPRESS GUIDE
Card Hang Ups – A quick and easy card display product
A versatile product that can be used anywhere in the home to display upto 50 cards. This product was used last year at 10 Downing Street.
Create an attractive display of cards this Christmas with Card Hang Ups – solves the problem of what to do with your cards
Card Hang Ups simple and quick to use, a pile of cards can be attractively displayed in minutes. The innovative fixing methods contained in each pack, allow Card Hang Ups to be used virtually anywhere in the home while not marking walls.
CITY BUSINESS MAGAZINE
"Coming to the rescue of many a householder, Card Hang Ups display Christmas cards quickly and attractively virtually anywhere in the home without marking walls or the need for a hook."
THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER (LONDON)
Talking about Christmas Card Hang Ups they called it: "...a unique Christmas card display device."
WASHINGTON POST (WASHINGTON, USA)
Jeff Turrentine wrote:
"...the Fridgefile, a magnetic vertical file designed for refrigerator doors to help parents keep track of team rosters, telephone numbers, PTA lists, and all of those papers that kids bring home from school every day."
They wrote about Card Hang Ups:
"2.1 billion greeting cards were received last year in the UK – for all occassions. Now there's a fun product avaiable that lets you display them quickly, attractively and easily virtually anywhere in the home without marking the walls."