Hills Alive with the sound of overseas trade for Warwickshire company

When Heather and Rob Hill were planning their honeymoon, they had no idea it would lead to a business partnership too!

The happy Warwickshire couple wanted to drive off into the sunset in their Morgan car but there was no room for the luggage. When they did some research, they found that there were no suitcases or travel bags on the market that could fit comfortably into a sports car and realised there was a gap in the market.

Rob said: “As every classic car enthusiast will know, it’s not just the issue of making the best use of every available inch of the restricted luggage space in these beautiful cars – it’s the wretched experience of numerous trips outside to where the car is parked (sometimes in the rain and cold) forcing small bags back into the car. It often felt like trying to do a crazy jigsaw puzzle.”

So, Rob, an engineer by trade, decided to solve the couple’s problem by designing and making two bespoke, fully-stiffened bags which perfectly fitted the luggage area of their car. That was six years ago and has since been turned into a business. Now a fully-fledged company based in Middleton, Hillsalive, is going from strength to strength with a full range of high-quality, abrasion-resistant luggage that cover 90 different vehicles from Jaguar to Lotus.

The customer-base has grown and the firm is now exporting overseas after receiving help from the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) service through the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. They have taken part in the Passport to Export scheme which has seen them exhibit in Germany, France and Holland and Hillsalive now trades in Australia, South Africa, USA, Canada, Norway and all of Europe. The international trade team at the Chamber are now helping the firm explore the Japanese market.

Heather said: “UKTI have been tremendously helpful and that has given us the chance to add further agents and distributors across the globe. We are now exporting right around the world. “We continue to expand our reach and look forward to adding new markets.”

Brian Mountford, of the international trade team at the Chamber, said: “It’s great to be able to support a company such as Hillsalive.

“Heather has used Passport to Export, along with other UKTI services, to successfully investigate new markets and increase its export sales. I am pleased that we have been able to assist.

“The product is very exportable and that is proving to be the case with new countries being added to the list all the time.

“UKTI has a number of schemes designed to help firms which want to reap the rewards associated with looking overseas to market their product.”