British smartphone maker Bullitt enjoys increasing demand for rugged handsets

In 2016, amid increasing demand for rugged mobiles, a British smartphone manufacturer that produces handsets sold under the JCB and CAT brands experienced a leap in sales of their products.

According to accounts filed at Companies House, Reading-based Bullitt Group, the United Kingdom’s last mobile phone maker after the demise of Vertu, a luxury manufacturer, earlier this year, raised revenues by 36pc last year.

The durable mobile phones produced by the company, which are resistant to dirt, water, and everyday damage, are popular among builders and other manual workers. They are made and sold by Bullit, however, under licensing deals, they carry the JCB or CAT names.

The company branched out by introducing a Kodak-branded device featuring a high-powered camera in 2016. It has also recently struck a deal with Land Rover to produce an adventure-focused smartphone scheduled to go on sale next year.

Its chief executive, Peter Stephens, announced that the company would continue to look for niches in the smartphone market that companies like that of Samsung and Apple are not serving.

Bullitt, which reports its accounts in dollars, reported revenues of $134.70m (£100.6m) up from $98.90m in the last 12 months. Pre-tax losses, on the other hand, decreased from $4.30m to $1.50m.

Stephens said that this year, the business had picked up further this year. He said that the company was aiming a 60pc sales growth in 2017. According to a recent report from CCS Insight, despite growth in the wider smartphone market tailing off, demand for rugged phones will rise by 25pc in 2017.

Bullit was founded by three ex-Motorola workers namely David Floyd, Richard Wharton, and Colin Batt in 2009. Stephens was a former executive at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. He was brought in as chief executive two years ago. The founders have stepped back from its day-to-day running; however, they remain as the largest shareholders of the company.