A MADCAP inventor from Purley has come up with his own solution to the back-breaking chore of carrying shopping back from the supermarket.
Bilal Rashid, 50, and his investor friend John Bird, 48, came up with the Safe Lift, a simple strap with hooks that rest on a person's shoulders.
The idea, which the pair claim is completely new, is to free up the shopper's hands, preventing their fingers being ripped to shreds and allowing them to go about their daily business.
Bilal, of Higher Drive, said: "I used to go to the supermarket on foot and when I came back my fingers would be blue and I'd be very tired.
"With this, my hands are free so I can use my mobile phone or have a cigarette. Shopping time becomes leisure time."
Bilal, a Costa Coffee barista who grew up in Bahrain, met John more than 20 years ago through their wives.
Software developer John said Bilal was a bit "crazy" and had previously come up with a lot of ideas for inventions which had already been made.
He added: "Billy is my friend and he's very creative. I want him to be as successful as possible so I told him to go away with a good idea and I'd think about investing in it.
"He came up with lots of mad ones but then one day he came up with the idea for the Safe Lift.
"It was a brilliant idea so we scoured the world and found that it is completely unique so we bought the patent."
The pair created a YouTube channel which has videos of John's twin sons, Paul and Aaron, both 15, demonstrating the benefits of using the product.
They are in negotiations with "major distribution channels" as well as local chiropractors – who are one of their key target markets.
John, from Chipstead, added: "We have spent the last two-and-a-half years honing our product because it is a logical solution to a universal problem.
"The weight of the shopping bags is spread across the shoulders rather than the back so it takes the weight off and could help with long-term health."
The pair want the finished product to be yellow, although they know it may not be a fashion accessory.
John said: "My son went off to university so I gave him a big bag of Safe Lifts to give to his mates but he said to me, 'I'm not walking the streets of Bristol with that'.
"Well, after the first trip to the shops, he was using it all the time."
Bilal and John have a production deal for the Safe Lift with the largest manufacturers of rubber car mats in the country and want to keep it as an English product.
John said: "Everything seems to come from abroad, but we want to keep it as an EU product and preferably English.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have a successful worldwide product which came from Croydon?"