Big in Asia, Fuzzy Brush are making 3.6m chewable toothbrushes per month in UK based factories.
There’s nothing like a plucky entrepreneur story to brighten up your day, so here goes.
Battered by Brexit, UK manufacturers face the prospect of dwindling exports and weak pound woes, but not Fuzzy Brush.
Sat in a Pancake shop in Amsterdam in 1996, Jim Drew came across a product he had never seen before in a dispenser by the window – the “chewable toothbrush”.
Err, excuse me…he tried it, his friends tried it, they liked it, and the rest is history.
Drew went full “chewable toothbrush” – he spent 2 years developing the packaging for these dental delicacies, in London and Florida, before deciding that actually, vending machines were indeed the best form of distribution.
He spent 2 more years perfecting the art of vending and placing his products in dentists’ until they began to sell.
He licensed it, and at the end of 2008, Fuzzy Brush had shifted more than 70 million brushes – in Canada, in Britain, in the US, The Middle East, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific – via 140 different distributors.
“How cool is that?”, asks Drew on his website. As cool as minty-freshness gets, Jim! He’s even selling his product in the Amsterdam coffee-shop where it all began! (we can’t think why they took off there – Ed).
It gets better – the firm say that over the last 12 months they have seen a 900% increase in export sales to Asia. 900%!
These Xylitol based products, which include both the toothbrushes and “crystal mints”, are giving the lie to expectations that British exports are under the cosh in the wake of the Brexit scandal – err, sorry, decision.
Jim is investing in new machinery to boost production in his factories that build the products right here in the UK, before they are shipped to Fuzzy Brush’s network of overseas partners.
Today their goods are sold in a staggering 20,000 stores in South Korea alone, compared to 1,500 stores in the UK.
And you thought Asia manufactured, and the UK bought. Not always. Expect to see more of this kind of business emerge in a world in which the UK is not considered pre-eminent in the way it was 100 years ago, and not everything is “made in Taiwan” any longer.