Cornilleau, European leader, manufacturing leisure table tennis equipment, is located in Bonneuil-les-Eaux in the Oise region. The company been interested for a long time now in innovation in all its forms and has an in-house design engineer who graduated from UTC-Compiegne.
After three years’ design work, the R&D workshops of Cornilleau brought out last summer a brand new product, the result of a real challenge for the Picardy-based company’s teams. It is the first outdoor billiard table called Hyphen, a link between elegance and leisure, design and conviviality. A former UTC student from the Mechanical Engineering major, and the elective speciality Industrial Design engineering course joined the adventure and took part in the design of this billiard table. Romain Radreaux, 26 years old, was recruited in June 2018 by Cornilleau for his know-how combining aesthetics, mechanical engineering and use. “Thinking about design today means putting oneself in the place of the user, thinking about the mechanical constraints without forgetting the great importance of aesthetics in all this. For me, that’s what design is all about and Cornilleau has understood that,” confides the engineer who is part of the R&D team, comprising prototypists, engineers and project managers and headed by Nicolas Havard. Innovation-related functions account for 10% of the 90-strong company’s workforce, which is still the European leader in its sector.
Tables, bats and balls “Made in Oise”
The brand provides tables for events organised by the French Table Tennis federation, in particular the French championships. It is distributed in more than 80 countries, designs and manufactures all its tables in France and places innovation at the heart of its development for more than 80,000 tables manufactured per year. Cornilleau reported a turnover of 27.5 Meuros in 2019 and a remarkably high level of international development. “We export to 85 countries, including the United States, where we opened a subsidiary in 2019. The American market is very strategic for us,” assures François Robert, the company’s sales director, who has continued – ever since the creation of the company in 1946 by Émile Cornilleau — to develop business by creating technological breakthroughs. One of the most notable dates back to 1988 and the creation of the outdoor table with a solid laminate top. In 1995, more ergonomics were introduced with the compact table; in 2005, Cornilleau launched the outdoor composite bats “Made in France”.
“Among the innovations that we are proud to have developed are the Park table, a durable, all-weather model dedicated to open-air playgrounds, and ultra-durable outdoor rackets with indestructible surfaces such as the Tacteo and its eco-designed cousin, the Softbat. We are also innovating in the field of competition; for example, we have created a competition racquet surface, Target Pro GT, in collaboration with Michelin. For us, the culture of design at the service of innovation is a way of sublimating every technological advance. It allows us to develop a top-of-the-range brand image and also, of course, to differentiate ourselves from the competition,” explains Nicolas Havard. R&D is a real asset for the company, as is “Made in France”.
Exports are affected, representing 55% of turnover. Cornilleau is a good example of how companies can combine the ingredients for success. The search for quality, the drive to gain a competitive edge, digital transition and the circular economy. Indeed, two years ago Cornilleau also launched the first outdoor bat made from recycled materials. Called SoftBat, the model is the fruit of this circular industry. Armor Lux supplies used clothing to a company that is able to recover the material and recompose it. The plastic used by the leader in table tennis equipment came from reprocessed used textiles. More recently, on November 5 last, Cornilleau was awarded the Sett d’Or de l’innovation 2019 at the Salon des Equipements et Techniques du Tourisme for its weather and shock-proof billiard table which converts very easily into a garden table.