We talk to MD Geoff Reynolds about Minions, Jurassic World and what’s next.
Centum Books has certainly had a busy summer – unsurprising really considering that the firm boasts two of the biggest entertainment licences of the year in its stable: Minions and Jurassic World. And, according to MD Geoff Reynolds, this is just the beginning for the ambitious company.
It’s been something of a dream start for Reynolds, who established Centum in 2011. The firm was quick to pick up a deal with Universal Records and Bravado for the official publishing programmes around a number of their acts, including Justin Bieber and The Wanted.
“This quickly helped Centum set up its direct retail distribution in the UK and established the company into the licensing community as a possible new publishing partner,” says Geoff. “The following 12 months saw us sign the rights for WWE and, in the summer of 2012, One Direction, which quickly elevated Centum into the international market.”
Within the first six months of launching the official One Direction books, they were being sold in 32 countries worldwide and in 16 different languages. Over the same period, Centum also saw significant growth in the UK, particularly in the non-traditional market. This helped it achieve over £10 million in retail sales and placed Centum in the top ten quickest growing publishing companies in the UK in 2013.
In the same year, Centum signed a limited range of titles with Universal for the Despicable Me franchise, which led on to the extension into the master UK publishing deals for Minions and Jurassic World.
Next up for the firm will be Monster Trucks, with a full publishing programme lined up to coincide with the Paramount movie in the first quarter of 2016. This is the first worldwide deal for Centum and will be the beginning of its US division.
Further new deals are currently being finalised and will include three master publishing programmes for 2016 movies – one of which is a pan-European deal – as well as a portfolio agreement with a major worldwide entertainment company across kids’ brands.
On top of this, Geoff and the team have been working with Sainsbury’s to deliver a full range of children’s publishing titles for the supermarket’s own brand range.
“These titles included board books, storybooks and various activity books, all encouraging development of key early year skills,” Geoff explains. “The team – led by Fiona and Gemma – worked with the Sainsbury’s buying team to create new characters, illustration styles and editorial templates to ensure a point of difference at retail, something which we believe is key in a challenging market.”
Further underlining this difference, Centum has been appointed by McDonald’s to deliver a range of licensed interactive reading experiences, hosted on the Happy Studio app and coinciding with in-restaurant promotions.
“We work with McDonald’s on a worldwide basis and the creative team are challenged to create these experiences in 35 different languages for 46 countries,” says Geoff. “The first brand was Minions and new licences refresh the offer throughout the year. We’ve just completed our sixth Happy Reader, with a further five in development.”
It’s clear that Centum is leading the pack of a new breed of publishing companies – mixing traditional formats with fresh ways of thinking at retail and also enjoying success in what can be a tricky app sector.
“Our USP is basically hard work, a flexible creative approach to ensure we deliver amazing products, identify top licences at an early stage and ensure speed to market to capitalise on the hype at the time,” concludes Geoff. “It is also important to have strong retail partnerships, where we listen and work together to find solutions and fill gaps in the market to maximise the sales opportunities.”