'Bob the Builder' drives sales

LONDON — U.K. kids producer-distribber HIT Entertainment, which recently bought “Thomas the Tank Engine” owner Gullane Entertainment, has reported a 131% increase in revenue to £121 million ($188 million) for the year ended July 31.

The company’s successful “Bob the Builder” property accounted for just under half of HIT’s revenue in 2001. Pre-tax profits also grew by 264% to $42.5 million, as did EBITDA by 170% to $69 million.

U.S. revenue grew 173% to $135 million, U.K. revenue increased 52% to $30 million, and the rest of Europe rose 14% to $7 million, while revenue from the rest of the world climbed 170% to $15.4 million.

Revenue figures were also helped by the acquisition in February 2001 of Lyrick Studios, owner of U.S. property “Barney the Dinosaur.”

HIT’s two biggest brands “Bob the Builder” and “Barney” saw year-on-year sales increases, by 231% and 89%, respectively. Worldwide revenues (excluding the U.S.) for “Barney” increased by 233%.

“Rubbadubbers,” the latest HIT-developed series, has already been licensed for broadcast in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, and Hasbro has been granted the master toy license.

The company has grown significantly since it went public in 1996. Six years ago, HIT had two offices, 23 employees, revenue of $17 million and a pre-tax profit of $1.5 million. Today, it has offices in five countries, over 400 employees, revenue of $188 million and a pre-tax profit of $42.5 million.

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