Demand from horse riders on the vast plains of America’s cowboy country has set a Gateshead equestrian firm galloping towards double sales growth this year.
GluShu is the pioneering firm behind plastic coated, slip-on horseshoes which could revolutionise the 500-year-old practice of horse shoeing, by swapping nails for glue.
The system, developed by design engineer John Wright, was initially produced for horses with damaged hooves. Global growth since the company launched in 2015, however, has opened up a number of new opportunities.
Its latest success comes in the US, where the company has signed a deal with a Florida-based distributor and formed a close working relationship with renowned equestrian institution, the Kentucky Horseshoeing School.
GluShu representatives will travel to the US later this year to demonstrate its products to horse riders, vets, horseshoeing students and farriers (professionals who shoe horses).
Director Sue Kell says: “The US market is a much easier territory to sell into than the UK. They have big ranches and so many horses – and riders often like to go on long trails lasting days at a time. It’s much more convenient for them to carry our products, rather than heavy tools, in the event that a horseshoe comes off.
“Unlike in the UK where horse shoes must legally be fitted by a qualified farrier, anyone can shoe horses there so they are keen for anything that makes the process easier.”
The company's global growth this year has been supported by Innovate2Succeed, a programme of business support which helps SMEs to capitalise on new ideas. Innovate2Succeed is delivered by RTC North and funded by Innovate UK and the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020,
The scheme enabled GluShu to broaden the appeal of its products, target overseas opportunities and join forces with Newcastle University to research ways of developing glue application methods to suit extreme conditions.
David Boath, innovation specialist at RTC North, said: “GluShu is disrupting an industry that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. With exciting opportunities emerging on several fronts around the world, it looks to have a very bright future, as more markets open up and it continues to innovate.”
GluShu has also established a foothold this year in Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, thanks in part to a new sponsorship deal with the high-profile Uruguayan endurance riding champion [INSERT NAME], whose horse will wear GluShu products in competition from September.
Growth in other markets beyond Europe – including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Africa – has also contributed to a projected increase in sales from 2,000 pairs in 2016 to 5,000 this year.
On the Continent, backed up by its partnership with a glue supplier in the Netherlands, Germany is its fastest growing market, followed by France then Finland.
In the UK, GluShu is selling to farriers, directly to horse owners and, following British Horseracing Association approval, a growing number of racehorse owners and trainers.
There are an estimated one million horses in the UK, and 100 million worldwide. Each year most will suffer foot problems such as laminitis, tenderness or thin hoof walls which can hinder the use of nails. Fear of nails is also common among horses, further complicating traditional farriering.
It takes around five minutes to fit a GluShu, although work is underway to speed up the process. For more information visit www.glushu.com.
Sep 28, 2017