Posts tagged #safetray

Safetray inventor interviewed by Informed Edinburgh

Spotlight On: Alison Grieve, Safetray Products Inventor and Entrepreneur

We catch up with local inventor and entrepreneur, Alison Grieve. She explains how one simple idea led her to create her revolutionary rage of Safetray Products which are now available all over the world.

How long have you lived in Edinburgh and what brought you here?

I was Glasgow-born, but moved here when I was seven. I lived here until leaving school when I scooted off for the best part of a decade. I returned in 2004 to have my twin boys because there really is no place like home when you become a mama.

Tell me more about your business, Safetray Products
I used to run an events business.  I invented the Safetray after witnessing a spectacular accident at one of our high-end events. A waitress lost control of her tray and dropped dozens of full champagne glasses all over the floor, smashing everywhere and causing embarrassment and expense. I started wondering why we still use the same old, dangerous design for carrying glasses and that’s when the idea for a discreet, retractable clip on the underside of the tray came to me. It slips between the server’s fingers and allows them to use their knuckles to help to control the tray, preventing it from overbalancing.

After patenting the invention and enlisting the help of Glasgow product designers, Fearsomengine, to source the manufacturer, we commenced production initially in China but then moved it to Scotland. The Safetray is now exported to 17 countries worldwide and is used in venues such as the Sofitel in Lyon, the Hyatt Regency in Dubai and Sodexo, USA.

We now have a few more products in development, including a mirror tray which looks as if stemmed glasses are magically floating through the air, and a disco tray with embedded LEDs.


Safetray featured in Dutch magazine Proost


Safetray is a featured product in cool Dutch hospitality magazine Proost.


Proost (which means Cheers) focuses on the cutting edge of the Dutch bar and restaurant scene, so of course Safetray is one of their favourite things. Safetray is available to buy in the Netherlands from RET Company - you can call them on +31 (0) 641 390 039 or visit their website here.

Posted on September 10, 2013 .

Globetrotting with Safetray


Our Safetrays are off on tour without us, and heading to lots of new and exotic places. This month we've had trays winging their way to Italy, Armenia, Russia, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Austria and all over Germany.

Our new Austrian distributor is Theodor R. Rist Company, and you can order from them on +43 (0)166 797 710 or visit their website at

Details of more distributors in all corners of the globe will be coming soon, so make sure you check back for more details.

One more day to go at Gulfood


Tomorrow is Safetray's last day at Gulfood, stand E3-33 in hall 3, so make sure you come along and say hello. If you'd like to arrange a meeting, call us on +44 7983 539370 or email Follow along with us on Twitter - look out for the hashtags #safetrayontour and #ivegotthewholeworldonmytray - or like us on Facebook for all the latest news and events.

Posted on February 27, 2013 .

Safetray CEO's Brazilian trade mission


CEO Alison Grieve travelled to Brazil last year with a Santander trade mission, where she explored this rapidly-growing market and met with potential customers and contacts. Santander recently featured her on their Breakthrough Programme's website here. Read the full story below.

Brazil Trade Mission: Safetray
For the inventor and manufacturer of the patented Safetray, gaining first-hand market intelligence on Brazil was invaluable.

As inventor of the patented Safetray – a tray that stays soundly and helpfully attached to the server’s hand, thanks to a retractable clip on the underside – Alison Grieve is continually looking for new markets. Having spent two years developing her product and establishing it in the US, the Middle East and Australia, Alison, who is also the company’s CEO, wanted to secure the future of her business and build on some important early gains. “We had some significant wins,” she says. “We sold a license to San Jamar, a leading US food service business, to manufacture and sell the Safetray in the US and Canada. For all other territories, we manufacture and distribute the product ourselves from the factory in Scotland. But the San Jamar license enhances credibility and provides another revenue stream.”

While South America and Brazil in particular had not featured on her early business plans, Alison still recognised the possibilities they offered. The market has similarities to the Middle East, where Safetray has made significant inroads into the hotel and hospitality sector. “We had also just gone through an exercise to establish patents in different countries, including Brazil,” she says. “We knew there were massive opportunities in South America, but had no real idea how you would go about making a first approach into a market like Brazil.”


For Alison, everything about the Breakthrough trade mission to Brazil was helpful. Networking with entrepreneurs from the other companies on the trip meant delegates could exchange notes on their experiences. “The group was completely varied,” says Alison. “A lot of the companies were more developed than ours and were at a later stage than us. That in itself was inspiring.”

“We now have a really good understanding of Brazil and what we would need to do to make it work. We have made contacts there and so we are significantly ahead.” Alison Grieve, CEO Safetray Products Ltd.

While in Brazil, the various experts she met – tax accountants, lawyers and logistics specialists – were a source of invaluable market intelligence. “You hear a lot about the potential of Brazil,” she says. “Sometimes the best learning you can have is actually not to commercialise in a country. You do have to look at the complexities and work out whether you have the resources to penetrate a market like Brazil.”

Potential buyers

Safetray attracted interest from the Marriott, where delegates were staying in Rio de Janeiro, as well as potential buyers they met in São Paulo. “It is a question of understanding how we might fulfil those orders,” says Alison. “The import taxation is just so high that it might make the product price disproportionately high. But at least we know that there is interest, and we know there are opportunities.”

Brazil itself may not be a realistic short-term prospect for Safetray, but exporting to South America is definitely part of Alison’s plan for the next three years. It could be that the company will work to establish itself in neighbouring countries and export via those.

Alison believes export success must be grounded in thorough research. “I think you have to be quite careful as a small company,” she says. “We now have a really good understanding of Brazil and what we would need to do to make it work. We have made contacts there and so we are significantly ahead. We haven’t entered any overseas market without visiting, attending trade shows and putting considerable groundwork and research into that effort. With a little entrepreneurial skill and problem solving, we should get over the hurdles.”

Posted on February 19, 2013 .

Safetray hits Gulfood


The next stop of Safetray on Tour is Gulfood, where you'll find us in Hall 3 on stand E3-33, 25-28 February, Dubai World Trade Centre.

If you want to see the Safetrays in action in the UAE, iconic beachside hotspot Barasti at the Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina is top of the list.

To order Safetrays, contact Truebell on +971 653 4211 or visit the website here.


Posted on January 31, 2013 .

The best Dubai hotels choose Safetray


Tripadvisor has just announced their Traveller's Choice 2013 top 25 hotels in the United Arab Emirates, and Safetray is already in five of them, and in a futher five sister hotels of those selected. Come and see us at Gulfood on 25-28 February, Hall 3, stand E3-33, to find out why.

See the final list here, and get your Gulfood tickets here.

If you'd like to organise a meeting in advance of the show, contact Anna Wilkie on +44 (0) 798 353 9367 or email To order today in the UAE, call our distributor Truebell on +971 653 4211.

Posted on January 17, 2013 .

Safetray's starring role at the Glasgow Restaurant Awards 2012

The moves were Sexy and he Knew It when chair of the Glasgow Restaurant Association Ryan James took to the stage at the Citizens Theatre to dance to the LMFAO hit. Since he knew his backing dancers would be working their trays hard at yesterday's Glasgow Restaurant Awards ceremony, he chose Safetrays to add a touch of flair - as well as safety - to proceedings.

Click below for a gallery of images from the event on the website, and click the link below for more info on all the winners.


The Glasgow Restaurant Awards 2012 celebrated the best in fine dining across the city.

Nominated by the public, each finalist restaurant was visited by a secret industry judge, before a panel of judges visited each category winner in order to identify the restaurant of the year.

The much anticipated event revealed Amarone, in the city’s Nelson Mandela Place, as Glasgow’s best restaurant.

Other winners included La Vita in George Square, who scooped the family restaurant of the year and Lychee Oriental who were named best newcomers.

This year’s awards were bigger and better with over 40 finalists up for the 19 award categories.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council and chairman of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB), said: "Congratulations to all of the GRA award winners at what has been a fantastic celebration of Glasgow’s exceptional culinary standard.

"I had the honour of presenting the GCMB sponsored award for Best Use of Social Media, which went to Arisaig."

    IN PICTURES: All the photographs from the glitzy awards

The winners on the night were:

    Posh – Brian Maule at Chardon D’or.

    Smart But Casual – Amarone.

    Casual - Art Lovers Café At House For An Art Lover.

    Family Restaurant of The Year - La Vita George Square.

    Non European - Sapporo Teppanyaki.

    Best Newcomer - Lychee Oriental.

    Best Breakfast - Café Gandolfi.

    Best Italian - La Lanterna.

    Young Chef Of The Year - Morven Gibson, Restaurant At Blythswood Square.

    5pm On-Line Users - Number 16.

    Outstanding Maitre D Of The Year - Ali Mohammed at Charcoals.

    Kitchen Porter - Peter Hynes of The Pipers’ Tryst.

    Best Use Of Social Media – Arisaig.

    Aspiring Front Of House Manager - Claire Mcculloch of the Restaurant At Blythswood Square.

    Greenest Restaurant - Cup Tea Lounge.

    Spirit Of Glasgow - Guy Cowan.

    Entrepreneurial Spirit - Maurice Taylor, Chardon Group.

    Lifetime Achievement Award - Jim and Gilly Wilson.

Posted on December 11, 2012 .

Safetray CEO interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland

CEO Alison Grieve was interviewed by Gillian Marles on BBC Radio Scotland's Business Scotland programme this weekend. Hear the full programme here or read the full transcript below.

Gillian Marles, voice over:  Scotland has a great history of invention. If it wasn’t for us, there wouldn’t be TV, colour photography, grass-collecting lawnmowers, marmalade, cotton reel threads, fountain pens… The list goes on. However, we didn’t invent the wheel, but a Scot did invent the pneumatic tire that goes around it. And we’re still an inventive nation, but not so good at making money from those inventions. Alison Grieve is one woman hoping to change that. She is Chief Executive and inventor of the Safetray.

Alison Grieve: I used to have an events business, and in my former years I was a waitress, so I knew the trials and tribulations of carrying trays. At one event, there was a particularly spectacular accident involving a trayload of champagne glasses toppling over just before the host of the event was about to walk in. There were champagne glasses everywhere, glass on the floor, the cost of the champagne alone was a couple of hundred pounds, and it was very embarrassing, costly and, of course, dangerous. So those three reasons helped me to invent the Safetray.

GM: But did you have it in your head that you were an inventor then?

AG: The truth is, that for quite a number of years, in fact ever since I was a child, I used to say “when I grow up I want to be an inventor”. My parents even have a tape of me saying I wanted to be an inventor when I grew up, so there was definitely a desire there. As part of my events business I used to be a consultant at a business events organisation, and saw fantastic financial services, lawyers and accountants. But I used to think that it’s quite sad that a nation that gave birth to incredibly famous engineers, world-renowned scientists and inventors who shaped the world was so focused on services, and that manufacturing had kind of been left by the wayside. I loved the thought of physically manufacturing a product that came out of a machine in Scotland and could travel the world. So there was a bigger motivation there.

GM: But having an idea, and having it in your head that you wanted to do something … there is an awfully long way before you actually get to be an inventor, and to producing something in Scotland that you then sell.

AG: There are some inventors who are quite methodical about how they invent, so they will look at a problem, they will look at, perhaps, existing patents, and they will look at developing an idea further – that’s one kind of inventor. But the other kind of inventor, or perhaps invention, is one that you simply can’t plan. You can’t plan a eureka moment, and the time when I thought about trays, and about the ridiculous way that they’re made, I leapt out of my chair when I came up with that idea. It was literally a moment of a flash, a bubble that just popped on my head, so that I didn’t really plan.

However, after that, because I had this motivation to physically manufacture a product, I knew, as soon as I saw my sketch on a bit of paper, I thought, “that is the one, that is the one”. Within a couple of weeks I’d stopped doing all events. I knew it would take all of my time and energy to devote myself to this product.

GM: Unfortunately this is radio, but describe to us what makes this different to a [normal] tray?

AG:  Although you can’t see this, the Safetray has a clip on the underside. Now you don’t notice it because it just stacks up normally like a regular bar tray, but when you pull it off a bar or a surface, it comes down and it presses against the back of your knuckles. It means that when there is a heavy weight, even an entire bottle of wine right on the edge of the tray, you use your knuckles to control the tray, to keep it horizontal, so you can confidently do single-handed service without fear of the tray becoming unbalanced and toppling over.

GM: It is amazing. So you had this idea, you had your sketch, what happened then?

AG: Well, I looked into how, when you have an idea, can you go about outsourcing things like someone to do the CAD drawings, and somebody to source the manufacturing company? I learned about how you can protect your idea with things like Non-Disclosure Agreements, and that’s what I set about doing. I found a product design consultancy, Fearsomengine in Glasgow, and rather than pay them for their services, I gave them equity in the company, because I wasn’t a cash-rich entrepreneur. I had a business that really paid for my life, but not a great deal else.

GM: Did there come a point where you would say to people that you’re an inventor? When did that happen, or has it happened? Is that what you say you are?

AG: It’s difficult when someone asks what you do, because the invention happens in a flash and then everything else is selling the product, pulling together a good team, raising money, all the other roll-your-sleeves-up hard bits. It starts to feel a bit false, saying you’re an inventor, because it seems like it’s such a long time ago. But recently, now that we’re starting to develop new products, there’s another few patents that will be coming out, and again I feel like an inventor.

GM: Just tell me about the scale of the company you’ve got now, before you go into the new products and expanding in whatever way. What is the scale?

AG: There are four operational staff and there’s a board of five. We export across five continents now, and our major markets have been America, the Middle East and Australia. It’s been a very full-on year of travelling, which sounds very glamorous but it’s quite exhausting actually! But it’s necessary and it’s very exciting to think of these Safetrays, which were just a sketch on a scrap of paper three years ago, going to countries that I’ve never even been to before, swirling around these incredible venues, from salsa venues to pizza restaurants, to high-end bars serving celebrities in LA. It’s just a very exciting thing to be part of.

GM: What pieces of advice could you give to people who are early in the journey of inventing something?

AG: My advice would be that it’s not an easy ride, and that you can’t be disheartened by that. You fill find that there are always more people who oppose you than support you when it’s a game-changing item, and so rather than take that personally, just understand that and embrace it, and understand why people react against innovation. Try to understand the psychology behind that, instead of being hurt by it. Looking back, the most painful experiences have actually been the most enhancing to me as a person. It might not feel like it at the time, but no pain, no gain.

GM,VO: Alison Grieve. We met at the BBC canteen; her office is off-limits because they’re testing new, top-secret products.

Posted on November 26, 2012 .

Safetray is a finalist in the International Trade Awards 2012


Safetray has been named as a finalist in this year's prestigious International Trade Awards, in the SME category. The ceremony, which last year was held in the Houses of Parliament, takes place on the 10th December and our CEO Alison Grieve will be flying down to London to represent the company. Look out for news closer to the date, but in the meantime we'd love to hear from other companies who will be attending - hit us up on Facebook and say hello.

Posted on November 1, 2012 .

Safetray in the Financial Times

Safetray was included in the Financial Times' supplement 'A Blueprint for British Business'. CEO Alison Grieve spoke to Paul Solman about the benefits of exporting. Since Safetrays are sold all over the world, she had a lot of interesting points to make.


Financial Times, 24th October 2012

Helping hands to sell abroad

Government financing and other services for exporters have had a mixed reception, writes Paul Solman

...Safetray Products is a business that sees its future primarily in overseas markets. Alison Grieve set up the Edinburgh-based company just three years ago to sell her invention, a tray that has a retractable handle to stop it toppling over. Already she has landed distribution deals in the Middle East, Australia and North America.

She, too, says government support was important. "We were lucky in that, although we aren't really part of the food and drink sector, we can slip into that category," she says.

"So in the Middle East there was a food and drink trade mission and a lot of UKTI support, and we were able to jump on that bandwagon. We also used Smart Exporter, a Scottish [trade support] scheme."

Nevertheless, Ms Grieve says UK companies that want to sell their own inventions abroad often struggle to protect their intellectual property - an issue that government schemes fail to address.

"For all but the largest companies it would be extremely expensive to defend your patent in different markets," she says. "What many companies do is end up licensing their innovations away at a very early stage.

"That is where the government is missing a trick, because what you get for a licensing deal in the early stages is not what you get if you hold on, start manufacturing and start to sell - which is what we have done."

Read the full story here

Posted on October 25, 2012 .

Safetray featured in Catering magazine

America's leading trade magazine for foodservice and event professionals, Catering, has called Safetray a "product you can't live without". For the full story, visit


Nice and steady

After witnessing an accident at an event, where a waitress dropped a tray filled with glasses of champagne, Alison Grieve got an idea. The former waitress and event manager, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, invented the Safetray. The service tray features a retractable clip on the underside that slips between the middle fingers of the server to offer stability through downward and horizontal traction, providing greater balance. For more information, visit To order, vist

Posted on September 27, 2012 .

Safetray is a finalist in the Best New Product Awards 2012


Australia has been a brilliant ride so far, and we're delighted that Safetray has been selected as a finalist in the Hospitality Equipment category of the Best New Product Awards 2012 at Fine Foods Australia.

There's just one more day to see us in action on Stand A1 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, before the team heads for Sydney on the evening of the 13th and then on to the Gold Coast on the 18th. Even Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls has been getting into Safetray:


Follow us on Twitter for more updates - look out for #safetrayontour and #ivegotthewholeworldonmytray, or find us on Facebook here

Posted on September 12, 2012 .

Safetray featured by Hospitality magazine

Leading Australian hospitality news portal Hospitality magazine has featured Safetray in advance of Fine Food Australia in Melbourne, where we will be exhibiting on stand A1 from 10-13 September.


No spilt drinks with Safetray

Invented by a former waitress and events manager, the Safetray is a service tray for busy wait staff featuring a discreet retractable clip on the underside.

After witnessing a spectacular accident involving a tray full of champagne glasses, Alison Grieve came up with the idea for Safetray, where servers slip their fingers into the clip, increasing the tray's stability and preventing spills and slips.

Research by Iris Worldwide found that 91.8 percent of servers had been involved in or seen an accident involving a tray at work. Of the respondents, 72.4 percent gelt that managers underestimated the difficulty of mastering a tray and 35.1 percent estimated the cost to the venue of a tray spill that they'd been involved in to be over £30.

Safetray is manufactured in the UK from polypropylene and high grade, wipe-clean rubber and has a five year guarantee against delamination. They can be washed in commercial dishwashers and lie flat when not in use, so the trays can be stacked when not in use.

For further information, visit

Posted on August 30, 2012 .

Safetray featured in Business Comment magazine

Safetray was featured in the August/September issue of Business Comment magazine, with CEO Alison Grieve talking about Business Gateway.


"A recent example of an Edinburgh business that has benefited from Business Gateway support is that of Safetray Ltd (, a young company producing a non-topple drinks tray that has secured deals to supply to two of America's largest food service companies and a renowned hotel with its innovative product.Sodexo USA, Compass Group USA and Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas were among the first to purchase the Safetray, a non-topple drinks tray invented by Alison Grieve, who came up witth the idea for the product after a tray of champagne worth hundreds of pounds toppled over at an event she had organised. Speaking about the major order, she said: "Securing orders with such leading names in the hospitality industry highlights how innovative the product is. The orders have also sparked interest in the product from across the globe. It's amazing to think that a product made by a small Scottish company will be used in places such as Alaska, San Francisco and New York."

John Hughes, Business Adviser, Business Gateway Edinburgh, said: "When Alison first came to us we immediately knew that her product had the potential to take the hospitality market by storm. We've supported the business through one-to-one advice, via our workshop programme and introduced Alison to other specialist agencies, all of which has helped turn her idea into a marketable product in a short period of time."

Speaking about the support offered, Alison said: "Business Gateway has supported me every step of the way - from ensuring my business plan was robust to helping me with the latest investment round. My adviser put me in touch with Scottish Enterprise, whose market research highlighted that the US was going to be the product's biggest market, with 60% of their top 100 bars providing VIP table service areas. This focused my attention on cracking North America first."

She added: "We are a classic Business Gateway story, in that we needed to develop intellectual property and it helped us secure a grant to do that; we needed to expand and so it put us in touch with the SDI; and now, with only one in 20 companies successful in an investment round, its support has helped us to secure finance. In terms of economic development, Business Gateway has done its job. We are now about to take on two new members of staff, with a further two later in 2012, and we're grateful for the help."

Posted on August 1, 2012 .

Safetray featured by the Guardian

Safetray is mentioned in a feature in the Guardian about the Marketing 4 StartUp Britain award, which we won last year. Our CEO Alison Grieve will be speaking at this year's event, which takes place on Monday 16th July. Other speakers include Facebook's European customer marketing chief Felicity McCarthy and Mumsnet co-founder Justine Roberts.


Safetray fought off stiff competition from other start-up brands such as Rocktails to take home the top prize, a year's marketing agency services from Iris Worldwide. Read the Guardian's coverage below.

From MediaGuardian, Monday 9 July 2012
Digital and advertising startups get chance to win expert help

A range of established agencies will offer advice on social media and digital strategy in government-backed initiative. By Mark Sweney

Digital and advertising startups are being given the chance to win the services of an established agency for a year to help get its business off the ground, in an initiative backed by the government.

Lord Young, the minister for employment relations, is to open a free event next week called Marketing 4 Startup Britain which aims to drive the entrepreneurial culture in the nation's creative and technology industries."

Posted on July 9, 2012 .

First Minister praises Alison Grieve in conference speech

CEO Alison Grieve spoke at the Business in the Parliament conference last month, and was praised by First Minister Alex Salmond in his opening speech.

Click below to watch the full video. The section where the First Minister mentions Alison begins at 46:20.

"The next generation of people to emulate is here amongst us today, and with us in the communities of Scotland. The people ... here range from Alison Grieve, whose Safetray business was established two years ago but is now exporting to Europe, North America and the Emirates, to Jim McColl who famously started as an apprentice at Weir Pumps and is now Chief Executive of Clyde Blowers, a company that employs thousands of people across the planet."

Posted on July 6, 2012 .