Electronics manufacturer Opsol has its sights set on doubling its turnover to £6m within a year after acquiring sole rights to a popular children’s product.
Set up in 2002, the Cramlington company manufactures for markets including rail and highway signage, education, security, medical and heating and for several years has been making the StoryPhone on behalf of Hartlepool-headquartered Ameeca, an MP3 digital audio system for children.
However, Ameeca recently appointed voluntary liquidators after falling into financial difficulties, and no longer manufacturing the Storyphone product could ultimately have impacted on Opsol’s own future.
With product development work underway and cost reduction activity just coming into place, Opsol’s managing director Malcolm Humble seized upon the opportunity to take on the StoryPhone, believing it to have massive potential in overseas markets.
And Humble has now signed a significant deal to take on the company, meaning he now owns the IP, patents and rights to sell Storyphone anywhere in the world, also agreeing to take on most of Ameeca’s £500,000 debt.
A technical support manager from Ameeca has also joined Opsol to aid the product’s continuity.
Created by a teacher, the StoryPhone is a learning tool devised to make listening easy and help children to develop their language, communication, listening and literacy skills. Opsol, which currently employs 28 people, took the StoryPhone from its inception to the market place and also now runs the StoryPhones website and StoryPhones BookShelf, an audio download store for primary schools which has audio books, songs and resources from educational publishers.
Last year the StoryPhone product brought in Ameeca £1m in sales, but Humble believes this could double in the next year as it penetrates new markets and he is now in talks with resellers around the world, in far flung places including New Zealand and Hong Kong, and by realising its full potential believes this sole part of his business could take turnover to new heights, despite absorbing Ameeca’s debt.
Humble said: “I can’t say how much I paid for it but it was certainly more than a £1.
“And I also took on most of the company’s debt.
“That debt will have some impact on the business but the product had a turnover of £1m last year, so even if we just maintain current output we’ll bring that in again.
“From the customer’s point of view, a multitude are looking for support and the phone has not stopped since we’ve said the product is available again.
“I’m now in the process of speaking to various people in Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and all sorts of other places to see what interest I can get in terms of resellers.
“The core business took £3m in sales this year and by 2015 I had forecasted we’ll have sales of £5m, and we’re well on the way to achieving that. I would certainly like to double sales within a year after getting StoryPhone.”