The group reports a £5m profit despite pandemic challenges and anticipates growth in the coming year.
The Character Group has published its results for the year ending 31st August 2020. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the group traded satisfactorily, reporting a profit before tax for the full year of £5m on turnover of £105m.
In the financial statement issued today, it was acknowledged that the strong performance originally forecast at this time last year was not fully realised due to the lockdowns, as well as restrictions that subsequently impacted the global economy since March 2020. It was also noted that the performance of the group since the end of the first lockdown in the UK, and in the run up to Christmas, has been very strong. As a consequence, the group says the anticipated strengthening and growth of the business was not lost but deferred, and will be realised in the current financial year.
Having maintained operations throughout the year to preserve the business-critical functions of the group, and to fulfil demand for its brands and products over the lockdown period and beyond, the business is in a strong position to move forward across all the markets in which it operates.
On the topic of Brexit, the group’s 2018 acquisition of Proxy ensured the uninterrupted continuity of the group’s UK operations and its cross-border business with the EU. The mainland UK business will be unaffected by the changes following Brexit, as the imports of its inventories are from the Far East.
Fresh collections for the trading period included new distributor lines, as well as some key brands developed in house. Among the highlights are Gotta Go Flamingo, which joined the Little Live Pets range, Squeakee the Balloon Dog and Laser Battle Hunters. Also strong were the Peppa Pig collection, which saw a new eco-friendly wooden option join the line-up, Pokémon and Heroes of Goo Jitzu. The launch of the in-house developed InstaGlam into the Shimmer ‘n’ Sparkle collection also had a beneficial effect on the company’s Arts & Crafts category.
The strength of the portfolio was also seen in the awards and top toys lists of the year. Three of Character’s hero toys for 2020 were selected for the DreamToys Dream Dozen – Peppa Pig’s Shopping Centre Playset, Laser Battle Hunters and the Pokémon Carry Case Playset – while five further items were named in the supplementary lists. Broadcast reviews have also been strong, with KickerBall and Gotta’ Go Flamingo selected as hottest toys on sale, as well as other television appearances for Squeakee the Balloon Dog and Laser Battle Hunters.
The statement ended with an outlook for the next financial year: “We believe that the product portfolio is one of the strongest and best performing offerings that the group has gone to market with in recent years. The resilience of Character’s performance has arisen from the ability of many of its customers to effectively service demand by migrating sales from bricks and mortar outlets to online shops and marketplaces, when needed. Character’s success in preserving profitability in troubled times and positioning itself to take advantage of the current opportunities has been down to the management’s ability to read and respond to the group’s fast-evolving market trends.
The group has developed an exciting and innovative line of new products, many of which are already in our current catalogue and others are in the pipeline for launch in the New Year.
“Trading in the lead up to Christmas 2020, including during the second UK lockdown, has been significantly ahead of the previous year’s sales, and the prospects for the current financial year ending August 2021 are looking extremely positive.”