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Disney delight for Peppa Pig's Shropshire publisher

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Peppa Pig has led a Shropshire firm to new riches after it struck a deal with Disney.

Redan Publishing has found success by taking advantage of the Peppa craze and publishing its official pre-school magazine.

And it has been such a success it has now struck a licensing deal to bring some of the world's biggest children's characters to life.

Disney has asked the Shrewsbury-based firm to create magazines featuring characters including Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and Captain America.

The firm, which is based in Belle Vue, boasts the biggest-selling pre-school magazine in Britain under its belt with its Peppa Pig comics.

Disney hopes the success will rub off with five new comics, including Disney Junior Magazine, which includes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, as well as Disney Princess Magazine, Sofia the First Magazine and Phineas and Ferb Magazine.

It has also won the right to publish another Disney title, Marvel Super Heroes, which includes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk – but is separate from comics bearing those characters' names.

Redan Publishing is tucked away in a residential area near Shrewsbury town centre – but it sells 20 million magazines a year across the globe.

Now the publisher, founded more than 20 years ago by three former employees from Superman publisher Marvel, has landed a licence to sell magazines featuring Disney characters, presenting the company with the opportunity for a huge revenue boost in the coming year.

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Redan – pronounced with emphasis on the A – was established in 1991 by Robert Sutherland, managing director of Marvel Comics in the UK, and his colleagues Jenny O'Connor and Diana Turner.

Now, thanks in no small part to the contribution of an at-the-time little-known cartoon pig called Peppa, the company has the UK's three best-selling pre-school magazines and distributes 20 million magazines a year across 21 titles.

As well as its headquarters in Belle Vue Road, Shrewsbury, where it employs 30 people, it also has an office in New York with five staff.

Now it is forecasting a 15 per cent boost in its turnover for 2014 thanks to a new deal that has seen it licensed to distribute magazines for a range of Disney characters. Revenue for the year is expected to accelerate from £12.6 million to £14.5 million.

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Meanwhile, it has also added a new branch of the business, Redan Alchemy, which will develop the company's own intellectual property with its own characters such as Goblin Princess, and others which it represents such as classic children's favourite Sooty.

"Disney were making their magazines in-house, but have now handed them back to us," said Ms O'Connor's joint managing director Julie Jones. "We are the biggest independent publisher of licensed character magazines in the UK, and the biggest overall in North America, and this is certainly a big name for us.

"We expect turnover to grow this year and that's mainly to do with Disney – although the market in the USA is completely different to over here."

She added: "We are going to launch Peppa Pig magazine to the USA in October. It's the number one pre-school publication in the UK, selling 98,000 copies every fortnight, and it's just starting to take off over there as well."

Alongside the all-conquering world of Peppa, the company's compilation titles – which offer a mix of characters such as Dora the Explorer and Fireman Sam – have also been key to success, along with its pioneering use of cover mounted gifts to draw in readers.

Educational

It also developed the model of educational magazines, encouraging children to learn as they read, and is now rolling out its own stable of licensed characters.

Redan Alchemy launched just over a year ago, and is now set to grow as new characters are introduced.

The company has sounded a note of caution, however, in an ongoing battle with the taxman over the price of cover mounted gifts.

Company heads will meet MP Daniel Kawczynski this week to discuss the issue, as they claim London-based publishers are given an easier ride over the matter.

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