The journey of Gripsure: from Cornwall to Japan

The journey of Gripsure: from Cornwall to Japan

“When we started out, I don’t think we ever imagined that we would be expanding the business into new territories in such a major way,” says Mike Nicholson, Managing Director of Gripsure UK Ltd, who established the company in 2005 and is now one of the best-known decking brands in Europe.

Over the last 18 years, the UK’s leading non-slip decking company has invested heavily in developing its product innovation and growing in new international markets and, after a lot of hard work, Gripsure has now established a manufacturing plant in Japan.

Mike says, “Gripsure is now recognised as a worldwide business and global brand, and we have benefitted greatly from the help and support of the Department for International Trade with this Japanese venture, which has helped us to realise our ambitions for the company.

The journey to setting up a base in Japan began in 2019 when Gami, the owner of Ikegami & Co Ltd based in Fukuyama, Hiroshima, paid a visit to the UK to see first-hand a project at the University of Cambridge featuring non-slip Accoya decking and custom graphics. Gami was so impressed with the product and spotted an opportunity to launch Gripsure in Japan.

In summer 2019 Gami visited our base in Cornwall, and we discussed his interest in producing Gripsure’s non-slip decking products under licence in Japan. Later that year I flew out to Japan to discuss the project in more detail and we met with the British Embassy in Tokyo,” adds Mike.

A few months later, in January 2020, an agreement was signed by Ikegami and Gripsure which allowed the non-slip decking products to be manufactured under licence locally in Japan and a Gripsure manufacturing plant was sent to Fukuyama, as part of the deal.

Mike says, “Of course, what happened next is well documented – the Covid 19 pandemic stopped the world in its tracks and when the plant arrived in Japan in April 2020, we had no choice but to wait until we could move forward with the project.

Gripsure was unable to visit Japan and commission the manufacturing plant at this time, which inevitably resulted in a delay to the launch of the product. After months of ingenuity from both parties the Japanese plant is now fully operational.

“There was a real desire to make this work successfully. We overcame the language barrier and time difference to become experts in using video calling to help us virtually assist the team in Japan to build the plant,” says Mike.

Ikegami & Co Ltd had their first exhibition in March this year, and Mike Nicholson and Maxime Caroff, Director of Gripsure International, finally managed to visit Ikegami’s Japanese manufacturing plant in early October.

Gripsure also has a wholly owned French company and is planning to establish its non-slip decking brand in 12 more territories during the next five years.

Mike was recently appointed an ‘Export Champion’ by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and recognised as a successful exporter dedicated to helping inspire and encourage other British businesses to sell their goods and services internationally.

Mike says, “We hope that by raising the profile of our partnership with Ikegami in Japan it will serve as a great example of what can be achieved and hopefully inspire others.

As an Export Champion, I am dedicated to helping other companies explore the opportunities that international exporting provides and assist them to open in new markets around the world. I want to share our experience and knowledge with others and show how we turned our exporting ambitions into reality.

Export Champions are an appointed community of business leaders that work in partnership with DIT. As volunteers, Export Champions often speak at or host export events, drawing on their expertise and sharing insight on their international sales experience to boost export capability.

Paul Shand, DIT’s Head of Trade in the South West says, “Businesses find it truly inspirational to hear from successful exporters like Gripsure – their insight and practical advice help businesses make the most of their potential to sell world-class goods and services internationally.

Gripsure produces anti-slip decking for homeowners and commercial customers in the UK and across the world from its base in Cornwall and has a team of 18. It produces 250,000 linear metres of hand-crafted decking boards in Cornwall every year and has supplied decking to high-profile customers, including Center Parcs, Edinburgh Zoo, the National Trust, and Kew Gardens.

The company was recently awarded two internationally recognised ISO accreditations for quality management and environmental management systems. It also holds several certifications and memberships for its exceeding excellence in leading industry standards.

More Information

You can find out more about Ikegami & Co Ltd at For details of how the Department for International Trade can support UK businesses to grow in new markets, visit