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Cover story

with a modern warehouse facility round the corner and the company has all the facilities required for domestic supply to retail. However, there is more than meets the eye: in early 1994, Zeon was acquired by Herald Holdings, a public company domiciled in Hong Kong. Zeon Far East now employs over 50 people in its offi ces in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong. From there, the services of fob supply, China sourcing, QC and factory compliance are handled. The company’s own social and ethical policies closely match those of their licensor and retail

Hitting the Big Time F

Zeon is not your typical toy company – sometimes you have to look a little harder to fi nd a hidden gem

ounded by current Managing Director Richard Tibber in 1979, Zeon is headquartered near Brent Cross in North London

set of licenses from which to develop winning products. But it was the Zeon Tech brand, which took Zeon into toys in a big way. In 2010 Zeon Sales Director Simon Gilham hit on the idea of reviving ‘bigtrak’, the programmable electronic vehicle from Milton Bradley circa 1979. The re-launch was such an unqualifi ed success that an updated version – ‘bigtrak XTR’ – is set for release in Spring 2013. A variety of ‘bigtrak’ accessories and spin-off products are now available and can be viewed on their website During 2012, Zeon entered the app market with the launch of the SmartSafe, a domestic safe-cum-money bank which can only be opened via a free-to-

Zeon recognises that the combination of creative design and the most popular licences is a winning one

partners, so ensuring an uninterrupted supply of high-quality goods. In January 2010 Zeon acquired Wesco

Limited, a Cheshire-based manufacturer of licensed timepieces and gifts. Having been friendly competitors for over twenty years, the merging of the two businesses made perfect sense. Wesco founder and Managing Director Robert Hughes remained with the business following the takeover and now heads up the licensing function for Zeon’s character division. The design offi ce in Wilmslow will close at the end of this year as planned and all design and development functions will be concentrated in Brent Cross. Known primarily as a timepiece

importer (actually, the UK’s largest), Zeon’s ownership of the Ingersoll brand, and global manufacturing and distribution rights to such well-known brands as Braun and Vivienne Westwood, gives the company real clout at retail. Having always had a character division, the acquisition of Wesco gave it a broader

20 Cover Story

download app for iPhone and Android phones. The success of this item has led to the development of other app products, which will be coming to market during the next six months. Perhaps the star of Zeon’s app range though is ‘Arcadie’.

Designed to look like a miniature arcade console, ‘Arcadie’ for iPhone off ers true- to-life game play for fans of retro games such as Blasteroids and Alien Invaders. The best news is that the games are free to download! Priced to retail at only £14.99, it’s no wonder that ‘Arcadie’ has been such an unqualifi ed success. Little wonder either, that Zeon is preparing a slightly larger version to coincide with the eagerly-anticipated release if the new iPad mini. Zeon recognises that the combination

of creative design and the most popular licences is a winning one. Thus the desire to seek out the best licensed properties is very real. As a long-standing partner of such high-profi le licensors as the Walt Disney Company and Sanrio, the company aims to work with only the most successful properties and it’s no coincidence therefore that they teamed up with CPLG/Activision this year on a Skylanders licence, and with Nickelodeon on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licence. Add to this existing rights for such brands as Peppa Pig, Star Wars and Doctor Who and the company can boast possibly the most complete gift and gadget line-up in the UK. Licensed products include clocks, watches, torches, bags, ceramic items (mugs, cookie jars, etc.) plus

Simon Gilham Sales Director

tinned mints and hard candy. 2013 will see the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and alongside a new range of Doctor Who gifts, Zeon will be launching a co-branded Doctor Who and Science Museum range. For more information, call the Zeon sales team on 0208 208 1833.

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