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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 14:00 GMT
Bob builds profits for Hit
Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney the Dinosaur
Hit has widened its range of characters
Children's favourite Bob the Builder has helped to construct a solid platform for its owner, Hit Entertainment.

The company, which also owns well known brands such as Pingu and Barney the Dinosaur, said half-year profits had jumped by two thirds to 25.5m.

The performance was helped by Hit's purchase last year of Gullane, which owned the rights to Thomas the Tank Engine and Guinness World Records.

Hit said the integration of Gullane had gone far better than originally anticipated.

Turnover soared to 96.2m from 58.9m in the same period a year ago. Revenues doubled in the UK and were 35% higher in the US.

Recession resistant

Chief executive Rob Lawes said the nature of the company's business meant it was in good shape to ride-out any slump in consumer spending.

Pingu: set for a new TV series
"It's amazing how the spending focus changes when you have children," he told BBC News Online.

"People put back buying a car or an expensive holiday, but treating children is the last thing they cut back on."

But he said Hit was "resistant" rather than immune to recession, and said he was not expecting any real pick-up in the global economy until 2004.

Pingu perks up

Mr Lawes said he was pleased to see Hit's portfolio of brands becoming far more diverse.

The company said two years ago 60% of its revenue came from one brand - Bob the Builder - but now no one character contributes more than one third.

It also noted that it was far less dependent on any one market, and while nearly three-quarters of its revenues used to come from the UK, this proportion was now down to 18%.

Bob the Builder continued to be a big earner despite a slight dip in sales in the US, with strong growth in France and Germany.

Sales of Pingu are expected to be boosted by the broadcast of a new television series later this year.

And Hit said it planned to improve Guinness World Records by increasing profitability in the US and reformatting the television series.

Bob the Builder deal agreed
05 Jul 02 |  Business

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