Business Growth Fund (BGF), established to help Britain’s fast-growing smaller and medium sized businesses, has taken a £4.8m minority stake in Wow! Stuff, the company behind toys such as the Air Swimmers and My Keepon.
This is BGF’s third investment in 2012 and its fifth since launch, bringing their total capital committed to fund the expansion of fast growing companies to £26m. The BGF was formed out of the Business Finance Taskforce set up by CEOs and executives of the major national banks and has £2.5b to invest.
Wow! Stuff was founded by Richard North in 2006, together with scientists Kenny McAndrew and Dr. Graeme Taylor. In five years, it has developed sales at retail of more than £30m and a pipeline of innovative toys that include 2011 Christmas bestsellers such as the Air Swimmers, My Keepon and Flitter Fairie and Dave the Funky Monkey.
BGF’s investment will enable the company to bring new and revolutionary products to market, develop future innovations and expand into the US, where significant growth opportunities exist. In addition, the company is looking to acquire a Shenzhen team of engineers and an American and UK based team of inventors enabling it to bring sourcing and the supervision of its manufacturing processes in-house.
In addition to funding, BGF will contribute operational support to the company both through the introduction of a non-executive director and chairman and through enhanced management of its supply chain and logistics.
BGF Investment Director Alistair Brew commented: “In less than six years Wow! Stuff has achieved a reputation for innovative product development, successful commercialisation and high quality partnership with brand owners. Over and above its recent success with blockbuster toys such as the Air Swimmer, it has a desirable new product pipeline that is exciting the toy market and enjoying significant early stage interest from global retailers. Wow! Stuff is also well placed to expand into the US, the world’s largest toy market. We are looking to back British businesses that have the means and ambition to take advantage of export opportunities and will work with them to make this happen.”
Wow! Stuff’s Richard North added: “Wow! Stuff aims to create and bring to market fresh, exciting and innovative products with mass market and international sales appeal. Our products are now available in the USA, France and Germany and we’re targeting 40 more countries over the next three years. New ‘invented here’ products will increase by more than 300% over the next 36 months and we’re targeting retail sales revenues of more than £100m.
“BGF’s investment is great news for us. Their financing and the additional expertise they bring to us as a partner investor will help us to turbo charge our ambitions and maintain our position as one of the fastest growing privately owned British companies. We would love to think of ourselves as the Dyson of the toy world.”