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BubbleBum On Target to Conquer the US Market

Northern Ireland-based BubbleBum UK Ltd, manufacturer of the world’s first inflatable car booster seat for children, is on target to conquer the US market by rolling out its product in one of America’s largest retail chains.

The company has succeeded in securing over $1m (£700,000) in funding this week to support the rollout through US superstore retail chain Target. The funding will also allow the company to employ more resources to help them to grow.

The financial support came from a combination of an Ulster Bank loan, private equity and investment from Co-Fund NI equity fund which was created by Invest Northern Ireland as part of its Access to Finance strategy.

The young innovative Derry-based company has grown from strength to strength since its creation by mother of two Grainne Kelly in December 2009. Having proven the concept and the market, and with the product already in 24 countries, BubbleBum UK Ltd is set to position itself as a global business.

Target is the second-largest retailer in the United States, behind Walmart, and has a chain of 1800 stores.

CEO Grainne Kelly said “This is a very strategic move for BubbleBum. The team have worked extremely hard and this investment gives us all the support to scale and deliver on the opportunities that are out there. In a climate where raising capital is virtually impossible for what would be deemed to be a start-up company, we have proven BubbleBum’s worth.

“It is challenging for any small business to grow quickly and in an ever changing market place we need to remain nimble so we can move fast. We have already employed one new staff member and are looking for another. This may only be a ‘little’ help with the economic issues faced in Northern Ireland, but a whole lot of “little” things add together to make a ‘big’ thing.

“We have a new vending opportunity in Belfast International Airport which is very exciting and some new products that will be released early in 2013. We are very happy with the funding deal and our fund partners have been very supportive throughout.”

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI’s Chief Executive said: “Many of our young innovative companies have historically experienced difficulties securing funding. Invest NI’s Access to Finance strategy was developed to specifically address this by establishing funds such as Co Fund NI.

“BubbleBum is an excellent example of a thriving local business with high growth prospects outside Northern Ireland. The ability to access this funding has enabled the company to target new markets and employ new staff. I wish Grainne and her team continued success in export markets.”

Lead investor Philip Cassidy said: “BubbleBum is a thriving company that has proved it has the potential to position itself as a global brand. I’m pleased to be able to provide Grainne with the support she needs to increase resources and grow the business globally”.

Craig Holmes, Corporate Finance Advisor at Horwood & Holmes Corporate Finance said: "HHCF are delighted to have advised the Shareholders of BubbleBum UK on the recent investment into the business. BubbleBum proves that young Northern Irish companies can compete globally and can attract funding on the back of a strong offering and business plan."

BubbleBum UK was established in December 2009 by mother of two, Grainne Kelly after years of carrying heavy, bulky, expensive booster seats around with the family.

This portable, lightweight, brightly coloured inflatable booster seat for kids aged between 4-11years easily deflates and folds flat so that kids or parents can carry it in rucksacks or handbags, making it perfect for holidays, rental cars, taxis, coach journeys, school trips or car pooling, it is safety approved for both the US and EU.
From concept to shelf in nine months, Grainne has proven her concept and proven the market for her innovative world first product. Already on sale in 24 countries with significant sales, she is scaling the company with projected sales of circa $2m this year.

The Co-Fund is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers Ltd and part financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Recently Halo, the NI Business Angel Network, passed the £4m milestone for investments in local SME’s since 2009.

This is the seventh Co-Fund NI deal bringing the total co-investment by Invest NI above the £1m level with match funding of £2.35 million from various private investor sources.