With people being confined to their homes during lockdown, a British product innovation start-up has experienced a boom in online sales to the US and is set to turn over £3m in US sales over the next five years.
Hit Products is the business behind CouchCoaster, a patented drink holder designed to rest a drink securely on the arm of a couch or sofa, and TableCoaster, an anti-spill drink holder for flat surfaces.
Purchases of CouchCoaster and TableCoaster accelerated during lockdown with more people watching Netflix on their sofas and homeworking at their dining tables. Combined sales for the products to the US between March and June 2020 were up 33% compared to the same period last year.
The business was approached by the Department for International Trade (DIT) whilst exhibiting at the Spring Fair in 2016 and since then DIT has supported Hit Products with advice and funding.
Hit Products Founder Barry Freeder said: “2020 has been filled with uncertainty but it just so happens that CouchCoaster and TableCoaster were the perfect ‘sit at home’ and ‘work from home’ accessories during a pandemic. The US has always been a key market for us as we began exporting there within the first few months of launching at the Spring Fair in 2016.
“The Department for International Trade’s in-market help, and advice has been invaluable, and I would strongly encourage other UK businesses to engage with DIT and explore the benefits of exporting.”
Founder, Barry Freeder came up with the business idea after watching Match of the Day whilst drinking a beer and becoming frustrated that there was nowhere safe that he could set it down. He used a Domino’s pizza box to make a rudimentary prototype that could hold his beer and attach to the sofa arm, and just like that the CouchCoaster was born.
Thanks to the growth of Hit Products’ international sales via Amazon to countries such as the US, Japan and Australia, the company has experienced a dramatic increase in its annual turnover, with exporting now accounting for over 80% of its sales. The US is a key market with sales on Amazon USA increasing by 50% year on year between 2017 and 2019. Hit Products’ worldwide sales are projected to hit up to £5m over the next five years.
Minister for Exports Graham Stuart said: “It is great to be able to support companies like Hit Products with e-exporting, as online sales are increasingly important to the UK’s recovery from the economic disruption caused by coronavirus.
“Smaller businesses are set to be particular winners from the trade deals which we are negotiating with countries around the world, as we prioritise SME chapters, strong data and digital provisions, the reduction of tariffs and the removal of regulatory and other barriers.
“There is strong international demand for innovative British products and the combination of enhanced e-exporting support and lower trade barriers delivered by DIT, means that UK companies can export with confidence.”
Today Hit Products’ drink holders can be found in thousands of homes across the world on almost every continent. The Company has recently begun exporting to Canada and is due to launch its third product – a mobile phone accessory – in the next couple of months.