Britax began manufacturing automotive safety equipment and accessories in the year 1938 and later started with the import of car and motorcycle accessories. It was in the 1960s that Britax forayed in the childcare space by starting to manufacture childcare safety products, primarily child safety seats and strollers. Mommy & Baby Times (MBT) had an exclusive chat with Kate Clark, PR and Events Manager at Britax America, about the history of Britax and the recent innovations introduced by the brand.
January 24, 2019
MBT: Please enlighten us about the brand history of Britax.
Kate Clark: Britax is a British manufacturer of childcare products including car seats, strollers, and accessories. It is a multinational company having divisions for major individual markets. The name of this eighty year old brand is actually a portmanteau word blended from two words: British and Accessories. We’ve always focused on safety and we’re known for our car seat which we’ve been selling in the market for just over 50 years and we sell strollers for every lifestyle, as well. While in the United States, we’ve been in the market for more than 20 years, since 1996.
MBT: Tell us something about the core philosophy of your company?
KC: In each of the regions, be it the United States, Australia, Europe or China, we channelise our focus on understanding the sensibility and market needs for distinct countries with regard to the safety and quality of the product. But we also go above and beyond the federal safety when it comes to the performance tests. Child passenger safety is undeniably important, and approximately 3 out of 4 car seats have some type of misuse, whether it is with the installation or harness. We try to provide innovative features so that it’s easier for the parents to use our products and there is no confusion. And at the end of the day, we’re willing to put in all of our efforts to ensure a safer ride for the child in Britax Car Seats.
“We even introduced a third layer of side impact protection back in 2009… which protects not only the child in the seat but acts as a buffer between also the occupant sitting next to this seat and the hard plastic shell of the car seat.”
MBT: What gives an edge to the brand that helps it to stay ahead of the curve?
KC: We have brought to market a lot of revolutionary and relevant features over the past few years. I would like to underline the fact that we introduced parents to the concept of side impact protection back in the late 90’s with the double layer of energy-management. The crashes that come from the side can be very severe; they don’t have as much of a crumple zone, as it is there in the front or rear of a car. So, to protect a child’s head, which we know is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body is extremely important.
We even introduced a third layer of side impact protection back in 2009 which was the first of its kind in the market, and the exterior layer which protects not only the child in the seat but acts as a buffer between also the occupant sitting next to this seat and the hard plastic shell of the car seat. Another really important fact that separates us from our competition is that most car seats are made outside of the United States. We have the luxury of working right at our factory which is at South Carolina, so, whenever we get customer service calls or questions, our quality team can get right on it, and figure out the possible solutions.
MBT: Kindly summarise the key innovations which your company might have introduced in the recent past across the product range?
KC: Since, I am speaking as a representative of Britax the USA; I would like to highlight an innovative feature that we introduced a few years ago. The red pattern in the back of the seats that looks very much like a honeycomb structure is called SafeCell Impact Protection. This is an innovative technology that we offer across most of our car seat categories. We also make car seats for the itty bitty babies that travel in the rear facing only seats, to the growing toddlers all the way up to the big kids at the end.
MBT: Please elaborate a bit more about the SafeCell technology.
KC: Our engineers realized that one can improve the impact situation in a crash, God forbid if that happens, by lowering the center of gravity so that the child would experience less forward movement. And when a child moves forward in a car seat, if they’re facing forward, they could hit their head on the back of the front seat. Once there is an impact, instead of the seat moving forward, the SafeCells allow the seat to move downward, lessening the impact on the child.
Something else which is really unique in the industry is our V-shaped top tether which incorporates a stage-released rip-stitch that helps slow the forward movement of a seat, like anti-lock brakes. Typically what happens with anti-lock brakes is that one is not going to stop quickly, and is in fact, actually going to slow down in stages. And in a crash-like situation, these rip-stitches release in short stages, so the threads rip out one at a time. Since this tether has got two sides to it as opposed to one, it breaks that impact in half and reduces its impact on the child. All Britax convertible car seats feature our integrated SafeCell Impact Protection system, which incorporates the impact-absorbing base, top-tether and 5-point harness, and our impact-stabilizing steel frame.
MBT: Are these products available just in US or across the globe?
KC: We are a global brand, but we have offices in the US, in Australia, in Germany, and in China servicing our own respective markets. In the United States, we serve the markets of North America as well as of South America. Most of our regional division manufactures the products for their respective markets. For instance, Britax based in Europe and USA make different car seats, however, we do share strollers which come from our factories in Asia. But when it comes to the category of car seats, we do engineer, design and test them for our own countries.
“All Britax convertible car seats feature our integrated SafeCell Impact Protection system, which incorporates the impact-absorbing base, top-tether and 5-point harness, and our impact-stabilizing steel frame.”
MBT: Describe about the strollers product line of Britax?
KC: We make everything from a single stroller that’s a lightweight, easy to fold, all the way up to the strollers that work for multiples. There are some that are side by side for growing toddlers, or you can have some that are modular-styled where the seat at the top can turn around. And the interesting feature is that one can add other accessories like an adapter at the back to make it a double stroller to put the car seat on. One can also put the second stroller seat in the back, that’s called the Britax B Ready and the smaller, lightweight stroller is called the Britax B-Lively.
MBT: What would you say about the future developments lined up for the brand?
KC: We’re always focusing on what the next product is and as a matter of fact, we’re actually working on some new strollers to be launched by the end of the 2019. We did launch a couple of strollers recently this year. The modular style continues to be very popular with certain families that continue to use the same stroller as a double when their second child is born.