Reinventing the kitchen towel

When Better All Round approached Cambridge’s PA Consulting with the idea of creating a better kitchen towel, the challenge was well and truly on. How do you make something as basic as a roll of kitchen paper better?

It’s squares of paper, wrapped around a central tube of cardboard - it doesn’t get much simpler. Perhaps not, but more user-friendly and more economical?

PA Consulting not only designed and manufactured a solution which was snapped up by Tesco the minute it was ready, they did it in less than 12 months.

Where to begin?

For starters, the team needed to ascertain where the current design had flaws. Firstly, there’s the issue of tearing a sheet from the roll. If your hands are wet or dirty, it can be like needing a pair of scissors to cut through the packaging on a pair of scissors. Secondly, because of how they’re wrapped around a central tube, conventional paper towel rolls spread outwards. This is space-unfriendly.

PA Consulting’s solution, the Ora kitchen towel, would address both the connected sheets and space issues in one elegant design.

The Ora towels are arranged in a cone, they’re not joined, and each stack contains the equivalent of two rolls of normal kitchen roll - only the Ora towels use “20% less packaging.”

Back to the drawing board

The concept was in, and the team knew what they wanted, but there was a problem. The machinery didn’t exist to automatically cut and fold circles of paper into the shape they needed for Ora.

Technology Expert at PA Consulting, David Stonehouse said, “We’ve had to go right back to basics and understand how to take a circle of paper, fold it into a cone - it’s really quite complex because you’re dealing with quite a soft, unstructured material.”

That meant that in addition to revolutionising the design and arrangement of the paper towel, PA Consulting had to create an entirely new way of manufacturing.

In the end, the team took the challenge of a new paper towel from concept, through design, to supermarket shelves in under 12 months. Ora paper towels are now available in over 1,300 Tesco stores nationwide.

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PA Consulting on the Ora kitchen towel

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