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Bouncebacks, ‘interesting’ developments and the timeless appeal of sticker collecting…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 2nd May 2014

Character Group’s half-year results have been released, and the company must be absolutely delighted with the significant increase in turnover (from £30m to nearly £47m) and more importantly, profit – from last year’s loss the company is now making a very healthy £3m profit. With calendar year results expected to follow a similar pattern, it’s great to see the company turning things round so impressively.

The South China Morning Post has reported that Lego is making a play for China’s increasingly affluent middle class with the construction of a new factory in Zhejiang province. The plant will be the company’s third-largest worldwide and is expected to employ 1,500 workers when it becomes fully operational in 2017.

Argos has unveiled a positive set of full-year results, with both sales and profits increasing. Interestingly, online sales now account for 44% of Argos’ total sales, with sales through mobile devices jumping massively to account for 18% of total sales. It seems that after a comparatively slow start, the company has really blossomed in the online environment.

Meanwhile Tesco is said to be looking to add greater retail experience to its board after disappointing annual results. Of the 12 member director’s board, nine are non-executive directors, of which apparently only two have any retail experience. After the banking crisis, when it was generally agreed that having people in charge of banks who weren’t actually bankers was a monumental blunder, it’s hardly surprising that some shareholders have expressed concern over the current balance of the board.

Online retailer Play.com has put 71 jobs under consultation, as a result of parent company Rakuten’s plans to operate a single global platform across its various marketplaces across the world. The company has a strong team in place in the UK, so I do hope the local cuts are not too draconian.

Elsewhere, Viacom has acquired Channel Five for a cool £450m, a development which I am sure Nickelodeon licensees are following with interest, as it will certainly open up new possibilities for popular Nickelodeon shows in the terrestrial broadcasting space. I also gather that the Sky sales team will take over sales for Channel Five, a move one agency observer referred to as “interesting” – which is one of my favourite adjectives, as it can mean so many things….

The BTHA has released details of its annual AGM and Toy Industry Day, which will once again take place at Great Fosters Hall in Egham, Surrey on 25th June. Further details of the event can be found here. I always find it a productive and thought-provoking day, not to mention a great opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues and friends – so if you’re going I’ll see you there.

Sambro will be running another of its popular trade events for buyers at the company’s Bury headquarters next Wednesday and Thursday. They’ve also announced today that all attendees will be entered into a draw to win a rather special One Direction-related prize – more details here. Inevitably, this did result in our editor Tom asking if he could go, but unfortunately we’re too busy next week.

Finally, I have to thank my good friends at Click Distribution for transporting me back to my dim and distant childhood. They recently sent me a Panini World Cup Sticker album and a whole box of sticker packs, which is quite comfortably the finest freebie I have received in a while. Tearing open pack after pack of stickers gave me a wonderful Proustian rush, as I was temporarily taken back to 1970, when I was first encountered the heady, addictive world of football card collecting. It was the Mexico World Cup, England was about to defend the trophy they won on home soil four years previously and I was a football mad eight-year-old – a heady concoction. I threw myself into trying to fill my collection with gusto, as excited to find a rare El Salvador player as I was to get one of the England players. I think it’s great that over 40 years later, although in many respects kids’ lives have changed beyond all recognition, they still get the same thrill from filling up their sticker album. And, of course, so do the dads – I have several friends who have gone round the village buying up whole boxes of sticker packs…the poor local kids will be complaining of shortages at this rate. Maybe working in the toy industry brings out the big kid in me, but I don’t think that’s any bad thing. Anyone got any swapsies?

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