Kitty drives up sales

John Hutt, chief executive of HTI

John Hutt, chief executive of HTI

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A CARTOON pig and a cat in dungarees are paying dividends for one Fylde coast success story.

HTI, the UK’s largest independent toy designer and manufacturer, said the continuing popularity of children’s characters such as Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty had helped drive up sales,

TV

The Fleetwood-based business, which develops products under license from children’s TV and film characters as well as its own portfolio of leading brands and supermarket own-label ranges, increased revenues nine per cent to £72m in the year to March 31.

Sales to non-UK markets also increased, representing around 25 per cent of total revenues following new deals with Babycentre in the Middle East, Walmart in Canada and USA and a worldwide deal with Carrefour.

The business now operates in more than 70 countries worldwide, with offices and showrooms in the UK, Hong Kong and Germany.

Established in 1955, HTI’s range includes role play, sit-on and wheeled toys, dolls prams and ‘pocket-money’ products. Its licences include traditional classics such as Peppa Pig and Postman Pat, fashion brands like Hello Kitty (pictured) as well as big-screen franchises like Toy Story.

HTI chief executive John Hutt said: “Our strategy of continued investment in new products and new licenses is helping innovate our target categories and drive growth, which will remain our primary focus over the coming year.

“We’re also delighted with the increasing contribution our non-UK markets are making to total sales, where new relationships with major global retailers provide an opportunity for further growth.”

Last year, total UK sales of toys reached £2.9bn, making it the biggest market in Europe and fourth largest in the world.

Coun Barry Birch, economy portfolio holder for Wyre Council, said: “We are delighted with the sales they are making at home and overseas which can only be good for the economy.

“I hope the business grows and offers more employment to the people of Fleetwood.”