Character World started off with the signing of a single deal with Lucas Entertainment to design, manufacture and sell official Star Wars Episode 1 bedding and other textile goods in 1998.
Fast-forward just ten years and it now has licensing agreements with numerous big name companies including 20th Century Fox, Nickelodeon, Hit Entertainment, Chapman Entertainment, The Licensing Company, Mattel and Disney. It currently has 15 licences, plus the Disney franchises, in its portfolio, which is 100 per cent licensing focused.
Turnover for 2007 stood at £16 million, with Character World moving into a new head office to accommodate its growing workforce and have additional space for further expansion.
“The firm has traditionally concentrated on designing and producing bedroom ranges for children’s brands, but the last 12 months has seen Character World diversify to produce ranges that appeal to an older market,” says Tim Kilby, marketing and sales manager at the company.
“We now supply ranges for animal portrait photographer Rachael Hale, rock and roll legend Elvis Presley and the greatest band of all time, The Beatles.”
It has recently signed deals with LucasFilm and Marvel for a raft of ranges to coincide with this summer’s big movies including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The deal also includes the upcoming animated TV series Star Wars: Clone Wars.
“We’ll be designing and producing single and double duvet covers, fleece blankets, blinds, ponchos and bean bags, with products available in stores across the UK including Woolworths, Tesco, Debenhams, Littlewoods Shop Direct, Argos and Express Gifts,” adds Kilby.
Going forward more product innovation is on the way, too. The firm’s patented Clever Coverz – an all-in-one bedding solution comprising a duvet cover, pillow case quilt and fitted sheet – will be hitting the shops later this year, while Cuddle Buddies are also due to arrive for a number of brands. In addition to this, ‘Paint Your Own’ licensed canvas art featuring Disney Princess, Thomas and Dora the Explorer is planned. “This type of product has never been seen in the UK market so we’re all very excited about our latest innovation,” Kilby enthuses.
Of course, the home textiles and accessories sector has changed dramatically in recent years, but Character World prides itself on being able to stand out from the crowd by constantly diversifying its range and becoming more innovative. Then there’s the quality of its products, of course.
“In our industry it is unusual to keep licences for more than a few years, but licensors stay with us year after year because we keep producing ranges that sell,” says Kilby. “Sourcing the best quality product at the best possible prices will always remain a challenge. We aim to keep prices as low as possible to drive volume with our retail partners.”
In five years time, Kilby is confident that Character World will still be leading the licensed home textiles and accessories sector. “We aim to achieve this by pushing the boundaries in product development, licensing and growing our business turnover year-on-year,” he concludes emphatically.