General Manager of Grandluxe and Founder of Bynd Artisan, Ms Winnie Chan, working with skilled craftsmen to transform age-old craftmanship into a relevant brand for today’s consumers.

Homegrown bookbinding company Grandluxe has transformed its business to re-engage customers in the digital era.

SPRINGnews
January 2015

With the rise in popularity of e-books and tablets over the past decade, the relevance and use of paper products have diminished. However, a love for the feel and smell of ink and books prompted Ms Winnie Chan, General Manager of Grandluxe Pte Ltd and Founder of Bynd Artisan, to breathe new life into her grandfather’s 70-year-old bookbinding business.

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“We believe that despite the move towards the digital age, people still like the feel of paper,” Ms Chan says. “There is something special about the touch and smell of it which cannot be replaced.” Grandluxe manufactures paper stationery and leather goods for companies in more than 30 countries, and sells its products in local and overseas bookshops. Spanning three generations, the company started its business in handmade bookbinding and now has a range of brands under its umbrella, including Monologue lifestyle journals, Luxe diaries and leather accessories. Yet despite its success, Ms Chan realised that the company needed to transform to stay relevant in today’s digital society.

So Grandluxe developed the company’s first retail concept, Bynd Artisan, which creates personalised notebooks and stationary for customers on the spot. The company also holds bookbinding and leather-making classes for aspiring craftsmen at its flagship store and workshop at Chin Bee Road in Jurong.

Transforming the brand

By tapping into SPRING Singapore’s Capability Development Grant, Grandluxe worked with a branding consultant and came up with the Bynd Artisan concept that is targeted at young working adults, architects, designers and other creative minds. It organised a series of focus groups to help it better understand its customers’ needs and develop the brand, which it launched in September last year.

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Bynd Artisan caters to the younger generation through its personalised services and ‘tactile’ concept, where customers can touch and feel the raw materials – something which Ms Chan says is lacking today.

“While the digital options are convenient, a handwritten journal of your thoughts and records is something unique you can pass on to your grandchildren,” Ms Chan explains.

“As bookstores close and electronic products prevail, we looked for new areas to grow our business while at the same time doing what we know best. Our aim is to have a contemporary range of paper and leather products that is inspired by heritage and recreates the traditional feel of pen on paper,” she says.

Bynd Artisan collaborates with local designers by turning their ideas and designs into reality through its capsule collections. The new brand has also enabled Grandluxe to revitalise the roles of some of its craftsmen who have been with the company for more than 40 years.

“We wanted to give our craftsmen a new lease of life, training them to multitask not only as artisans imparting their knowledge to the younger generation, but also as service staff,” Ms Chan adds.

Future expansion

Within the first month of opening its flagship store and atelier in Jurong, Bynd Artisan secured a retail space at TANGS Orchard.

“Our customers love making their own customised notebooks and we’ve already sold the stock we initially planned for the first six months,” Ms Chan says.

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This year, Grandluxe will work on franchising the brand to the international market and explore the possibility of opening a Bynd Artisan atelier in Singapore’s main shopping district. It will also apply the lessons it learnt from this branding exercise to grow its Monologue brand.

Ms Chan says, “We see a movement back to an appreciation of things handmade and expect 2015 to be an exciting and challenging year for us.”

Key takeaways

– Revitalising your business will help you stay relevant in a highly competitive market.

– To find out how SPRING can support your transformation journey, visit www.spring.gov.sg/CDG.

For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email lifestyle_division@spring.gov.sg.