Give your baby a Shnuggle

23/03/18

Sinead and Adam Murphy of @shnuggle heading to Baby Show London

Shnuggle is a Northern Irish company founded by Sinead and Adam Murphy, a husband and wife who saw the need for affordable but beautifully designed baby products. The company launched in 2009 with the world’s first synthetic Moses basket. Designed to be quieter, stronger and more hygienic than what was in the market at this time. They founded the company with savings and personal loans and ran the business part time while working full time jobs.

Fast forward 8 years – Shnuggle is now a £2m revenue company, with approx. 50% of sales exported to over 20 countries. The team has taken private investment and venture capital funding and now have a growing portfolio of products, including the multi-award winning Shnuggle bath.

Shnuggle’s largest export market is presently Asia with strong sales in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong & China. The biggest growth market for 2018 will be North America & Canada as the company has just signed up a new distributor who is well established in these markets. They expect to generate over $1m of revenue from North America in 2018, which will make this their biggest export market.

The vote to leave the EU was a disappointing outcome and one that has left much uncertainty for many businesses. The biggest impact the vote had on Shnuggle was the devaluation of the pound, as they import many of their products and pay in USD. They were forced to implement product price rises across the board – which directly affected the consumer. Looking forward to the exit date in 2019, they have concerns over access to the EU market and what, if any, tariffs will be imposed – however as over 50% of their business is export direct from China, it doesn’t enter UK customs space. For EU exports, if necessary, they will consider utilising a European warehouse to remove the risk of UK duties.

 

Adam Murphy, Founder & CEO gives this advice to private businesses that wish to expand:

 

“If you have identified an opportunity to start exporting your product or service, there are many support services available to help you succeed. For us, Invest NI has been an invaluable asset – helping with market research and visits. The key to our export success has been good research to ensure that our products are compatible with the market. Luckily for Shnuggle, the needs of babies are standard the world over.

 

"Once you have established the need, you must decide how you want to sell in that territory. Direct to consumer, direct to trade or to a distributor / wholesaler. For Shnuggle we have found that a good local distributor has the knowledge, reach and customer base to make an instant success for your product vs going it alone. For instance, we appointed a well-regarded distributor in South Korea, and within 4 months, our Bath Tub became the best-selling baby bath in that country. You will give away more margin using a distributor, but you should see faster growth.

 

"Finally, we would add that not all export partners will succeed with your product, so it is important to have a good contract in place that allows you to terminate an under-performing partner. You will need your own internal measures of success, and if your partners cannot meet those expectations – you must be prepared to change.”

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