Ellen Green of Blue Badge Co named among 12 leading women in UK retail


Ellen Green, managing director of fast growing maker and designer of independent lifestyle products Blue Badge Co, has been named one of 12 inspirational Worldpay everywoman in Retail Ambassadors for 2017.

Ellen, who has grown Blue Badge Co from a company run from a friend’s bedroom to a £500,000 business, was selected alongside leading figures from major national retailers such as Tesco, Amazon and Argos.

Each year the Worldpay everywoman in Retail Ambassador Programme chooses 12 women from across the UK as everywoman ambassadors to encourage more women to aim for the top jobs within the retail industry.

While women account for 60 per cent of the 2.8m retail employees in the UK, only three of the 24 retail companies listed on the FTSE 100, have female chief executives and just 10 per cent of executive roles are held by women.

This years’ ambassadors included founders of fast-growing global brands, to women reshaping operations at some of the country’s largest retailers and individuals who are driving change through their organisation on mental health.

Ellen was chosen for her commitment to changing perceptions of disability through the success of Blue Badge Co.

She said:

“I’m really proud to be named an everywoman retail ambassador alongside all these amazing women.

This is recognition of the hard work and commitment of all of the team at Blue Badge Co who have made the business a success.

We want to see disability products sold as part of the mainstream and no longer sidelined or considered niche – we feel this is symbolic of how society views disability as a whole.”

The Bristol-based business is among the first to have identified the growing demand for stylish, design-led independent lifestyle products and travel aids, with disabled consumers now making up a fifth of the UK population – nearly 12 million people, up from 10 million ten years ago – who, with their households, have a spending power of more than £200bn.

With the over 50s, who control over 75 per cent of household wealth, likely to make up more than half of the population by 2030, Blue Badge Co’s success reflects the rise of the ‘purple pound’ – the growing spending power of disabled people.

Having grown turnover by 50 per cent three years in a row, the six-year-old company recently doubled the size of its workshop and now supplies its products to Argos, Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy, Halfords and the Post Office.

Its workforce of 15 permanent staff, with a handful of regular freelancers, hand craft all the Blue Badge Co products on site.

Around 40 per cent of the Blue Badge Co workforce are disabled or are primary care givers, meaning the team has a first-hand appreciation of disabilities from mental health issues to physical impairments.

The company’s big breakthrough came in 2013 when a Boots buyer spotted its products at a trade exhibition and placed an order for 10,000 wallets – dwarfing the 8,000 the company had made in its previous two years.

Blue Badge Co now supplies 2,500 Boots stores nationwide.

In August 2015 Ellen appeared on BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den where her ten-minute appearance on the show triggered two months’ worth of orders in 24 hours.

Refusing to take Touker Suleyman’s offer, or his advice to take the manufacturing overseas to cut costs, Ellen has upheld to her belief in high quality UK manufacturing and later secured a far more favourable investment which has enabled her to expand the company’s product range.

Ellen said:

“We want to make Blue Badge Co the go-to company for stylish independent lifestyle products.

Retailers are only now waking up to the growing demand from disabled and ageing consumers who want home and travel aids with great designs, that are desirable lifestyle products rather than medical necessities.

Blue Badge Co is leading the way in meeting this demand and has grown really fast in the last three years with contracts signed with several major UK retailers.”