A company based in Exeter which invented the world’s loudest bicycle horn has achieved export sales worth over £1 million after a growth of 220% to Australia since 2019. Its global sales have reached over £3m.
Hornit’s founder, Tom de Pelet, appeared on Dragons Den in 2015 when the Dragons turned down the chance to support his patented Hornit Bicycle horn.
The company’s success comes as Australia and the UK agreed a free trade deal in June 2020, which is set to boost industries that employ 3.5 million people in the UK.
Tom spent 7 years commuting to work in London and realised there was a gap in the market for innovative cycling products. The first product launched was the dB140 – the world’s loudest bike horn which allows cyclists to alert distracted drivers.
At 140-decibels, the Hornit can be heard by drivers over the noise of a radio and the sounds of the city.
The company’s growth to the market comes as Australia experienced a boom in cycling activity during 2020, with one survey of 444 people finding that 63% of respondents increased cycling during COVID-19 restrictions.
The company has been supported by the Department for International Trade (DIT) since 2016. Tom said:
“We heard that DIT would be able to help with introductions to potential customers in countries all over the world as well as being able to contribute towards the costs of international trade fairs in Hong Kong, France, and Germany.
“Over the last 12 months Peter Hollingsworth from DIT has been a big help. He has supported us with securing funding, assisted us with applications, introduced us to contacts and has worked with us on new projects.
“Our growth in the Australian B2C market has been largely supported by DIT and we’ve seen strong growth in just 6 months. The Australian website launched in March 2021 has already generated USD 50,000 in revenue.”
Australia was the UK’s 20th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2021, accounting for 1.2% of total UK trade. In 2020, The total value of goods exported from the South West to Australia in 2020 amounted to 238m, accounting for 5.9% of total exports to the market, showing the strong existing demand.
Tom offers some key advice for companies looking to export to Australia:
“We would advise finding the right distribution partner. Ideally someone who is already active in the market with the right contacts and critically one which can pay you on terms to match the terms you have with your factory to prevent any cash flow issues.
“In order to increase our brand presence in Australia we now have a dedicated Australian website and our distributor now acts as our logistics partner fulfilling both B2B and B2C sales.
“Having the website enables us to measure accurately the effects of our marketing and PR. Not only that, but the profits from the website sales fund the marketing budget and the surplus gives the distributor higher margins and helps us to defray the costs of managing the site. This results in a virtuous circle for growing profitably both the B2C and B2B sales.
“In addition, added focus on B2C means we are closer to our end customers and can give them a better service and better feeling about the brand than if we were just relying on the traditional distributor/retailer model.”
“Finally, get in touch with DIT as they will be able to support you to develop a strong export strategy.”
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