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DragonsDenA COMPANY that is producing stylish and practical living aids for disabled people has seen its sales soar by more than 70% since appearing on BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den.

Blue Badge Company saw nearly £180,000-worth of sales in the second half of 2015, compared to just under £105,000 for the same period the previous year.

The massive boost came after company director Ellen Green appeared on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den in August last year.

After Ellen’s ten-minute appearance on the show, Blue Badge Company received two months’ worth of orders in 24 hours.

Ellen walked away from the hit show with no funding after refusing an offer of £70,000 in return for a 35% stake in her company from retail tycoon Touker Suleyman.

But within a few weeks she had secured £30,000 investment from peer-to-peer loan company, Funding Circle, for no equity.

Ellen, who reappeared in the ‘Dragons’ Den’ for the follow-up programme, From Pitches to Riches, said:

“I left the den empty handed but thankfully Blue Badge Company has been reaping the benefits ever since.

“The show made far more people aware of our beautiful products and orders have flooded ever since.

“We’re now selling in a lot more major retailers and our direct orders via the website rose by 43% last year.

“The ‘Dragons’ Den effect’ has provided the boost we needed to get to the next stage of growth.”

Since the TV appearance, Blue Badge Company products have been stocked by Argos, Halfords, Lloyds Pharmacy and Day Lewis Pharmacy stores.

The company’s annual sales rose by 35% to £325,815 in 2015 and look set to hit £500,000 this year.

Blue Badge Company was launched five years ago by a designer who was fed up with what she saw as the universally dull, clinical products available to disabled consumers.

She enlisted the help of her friend, Ellen, and sitting in the bedroom of her small house in Bristol, the pair started hand-stitching hundreds of eye-catching Blue Badge display wallets.

Ellen took over the business as a sole director in 2013.

More than 130,000 wallets have now been sold across the UK and the company is now producing a range of attractive living aids such as lap trays, wheat warmers and walking stick bags.

The company’s big breakthrough came in 2013 when a Boots buyer spotted its products at a trade exhibition and placed an order for 10,000 wallets – dwarfing the 8,000 the company had made in its previous two years.

Blue Badge Company now supplies 2,500 Boots stores nationwide as well as the Post Office and a raft of smaller stores across the country.

Disabled consumers now make up a fifth of the UK population – nearly 12 million people, up from 10 million ten years ago – and have a spending power of more than £200bn.

The over 50s control over 75% of household wealth and are also likely to make up more than half of the population by 2030.

“Thanks for better healthcare and an ageing population, the number of elderly and disabled consumers is growing fast,” said Ellen.

“But until now they have been largely overlooked by major retailers and been limited in choice to dull, clinical products that say more about their disability than personality and tastes.

“We want to change this and happily high street stores seem to be waking up to the growing demand from disabled consumers for stylish and desirable products.”

The company’s workforce has grown from one to 16 in the last three years – and almost half are affected by disability.

“Because of the way we manufacture, we can provide jobs and training for those with limited work options, like people who have domestic responsibilities or disabilities,” said Ellen.

“I believe a company is only as strong as the team behind it. Providing work for people who find it more difficult to access employment really boosts personal confidence and team moral.

“It also adds to our understanding of our customers and their needs and wishes, which is key.”

Tel, 0117 923 2594

www.bluebadgecompany.co.uk

 

  • There are 2.6 million Blue Badge holders in the UK.
  • A fifth of the population has a disability, that’s nearly 12 million people.
  • They and their households have a spending power of over £200bn.
  • The over 50’s, who control over 75 per cent of household wealth, will make up over half of the population by 2030.