The Business Growth Fund (BGF) has closed its fifth deal through an investment in toy development company Wow! Stuff.
The £4.8 million minority transaction represents the BGF’s third investment of 2012 and brings total capital committed to £26 million. The funding is set to allow the company to bring new products to market and develop future innovations.
Founded in 2006 by entrepreneur Richard North, as well as scientists Kenny McAndrew and Graeme Taylor, Wow! Stuff has reported revenues of £20 million, and produces toys including Air Swimmers, My Keepon and Flitter Fairies. The business derives 50 per cent of its sales from overseas and has been dubbed by North as ‘the Dyson of the toy world’.
North, founder and CEO of Wow! Stuff, says that the business is aiming to create and bring to market fresh, exciting and innovative products with mass market and international sales appeal through the targeting of 40 more countries over the next three years, following its overseas presence in the USA, France and Germany.
He adds, ‘BGF’s investment is great news for us. Their funding 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.’
Global sales for Wow! Stuff toys in 2010 totaled $83.3 billion, with the US being its largest market at 26 per cent. Based in Wolverhampton, the company also produces toys which are sold under the brands of Top Gear and Doctor Who.
Alistair Brew, investment director for BGF, comments, ‘In six short 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.’
The BGF started its 2012 deal activity by joining a consortium of investors backing social video business Unruly in January. Its second deal of the year came through the £10 million of support provided to GCI Telecom Group in February.
Despite the investment being only its fifth since its announcement in October 2010, and launch in May 2011, CEO of BGF, Stephen Welton says the success of the fund will be if it is still around in ten years time.