Holland Publishing launched the Little Star Creations imprint in April this year in order to expand into the licensed children’s character market.
The decision to launch came at a time of economic unrest, but the company was confident that this year was the right time to launch.
Jonathan Holland, managing director, explains: “Many people have asked why we have undertaken such a major expansion in the midst of a tough economic climate, but the recession creates opportunities as well as challenges.
“As a company we entered this testing economic period in a very strong financial position and this has enabled us to invest extensively in the business at a time when many others are looking to retrench. We have no doubt that that will stand us in good stead as the economy recovers and consumer confidence returns.”
Little Stars currently employs a team of 11, which it hopes will increase during 2010 as it expands its portfolio of licences, products and distribution channels.
Having said that, the company has hit the ground running and is already working with some of the industry’s key brands.
Current properties in the portfolio include the recent addition of the fast-growing Waybuloo series from RDF. For this, the firm is creating a range of creative play packs including sticker and activity sets and magnetic play scenes which will launch early in 2010.
On the publishing front, and indeed the first licence signed back in April, the firm is working with Bang on the Door and offering a range of Groovy Chick publications.
This autumn the firm has also released a series of gift books with the Pet Poets Club and in 2010, will launch a range of sticker story and activity books for Little Princess and Super Why.
Moving away from publishing, Little Star Creations is also offering a line of children's headphones, and for this product, has acquired a strong group of licences including Little Princess, Ben 10, Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Groovy Chick and Mr. Men. Holland comments: “As an industry first, we are extremely pleased with the successful uptake of the children's character headphones.
“To date, we have secured deals with a slate of strong children's licences and continue ongoing discussions with other top properties in the kids and pre-school arena. There is nothing similar on the market for children and the initial response to the range has just been phenomenal with reprint orders placed before the first stocks arrive in the UK.”
Also moving outside the publishing remit, Cbeebies' Big and Small TV series leads the way with obvious connotations for a key range of magnetic height charts.
Approximately 80 per cent of the Little Star Creations range will be licensed products. The ranges include sticker, colouring, activity and gift books, creative play packs, magnetic height charts and children's headphones.
As an overall strategy, the company’s focus is on producing ethically sourced, forest-friendly FSC-based paper product, providing licensors with the opportunity to endorse their brands with a strong environmental message.
To support the new products, the company has a strong marketing and PR strategy in place alongside a number of trade show presences at BLE, Toy Fair, Spring Fair, Bologna Book Fair and the London Book Fair among others.
Holland continues: “We have a very strong sales team in place and we are very committed to our licensors with whom we will continue to build on our burgeoning relationships.
“Multi-distribution is proving very successful for us with the toy/gift/book and stationery sectors all providing successful channels for sales.”