BubbleBum gets boost with Walmart contract

€2.5 million deal agreed with world’s largest retailer

BubbleBum, an inflatable car booster seat for children designed by Gráinne Kelly, is to go on sale in Walmart stores from January.

BubbleBum, an inflatable car booster seat for children designed by Gráinne Kelly, is to go on sale in Walmart stores from January.

 


A Derry-based businesswoman has secured a major deal with the US retail giant Walmart to put her product in more than 2,000 of its stores.

BubbleBum, an inflatable car booster seat for children designed by Gráinne Kelly, is to go on sale in Walmart stores from January. The contract, which is worth an estimated €2.5 million, follows on from a similar deal agreed with Target, the second-largest retail chain in the US, earlier this year.

Ms Kelly, who was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 and winner of a Women in Business NI award last year, set up the company in December 2009. She said the Walmart contract was a major coup for the firm.

“Usually Walmart would test products in just a couple of hundred stores before deciding whether to stock it on a permanent basis so it is miraculous that it has decided to roll it out so widely,” she said.

The mother of two said the idea for BubbleBum came about after many years of carrying expensive and bulky booster seats around with the family on holidays and outings. The product is now on sale in 24 countries and there are plans to sell it in Norway and Russia.

BubbleBum’s portable, lightweight, brightly coloured inflatable booster seat is for children aged between 4-11 years. It easily deflates and folds flat so that it can be carried in a rucksack or even a handbag. The product, which retails for £29.99 (€35), is tested to meet EU and US safety standards.

Five people are employed at the company’s facility in Derry’s Skeoge Industrial Park, although BubbleBum intends to double its workforce over the coming months.

Last year the company got £700,000 (€826,000) in funding from the Co-Fund NI equity fund to help its expansion into the US.

Ms Kelly said that before selling in the US, she had been advised to consider changing the company’s name in order to avoid offending individuals of a conservative nature. However, she rejected the idea.

“We did consider whether the name might have other connotations but some major buyers over there told us not to over-think it. They said that the name accurately described the product.”

BubbleBum, which is projecting sales of $4 million for next year, is gearing up to launch a new shoulder belt cushion product for children known as “Thingymebob” in January.