Smiths News records growth in trading cards and collectables

CEO Jonathan Bunting said the performance was 'founded on the hard work and focused strategy of the past three years'

Smiths News records growth in trading cards and collectables

Trading cards and collectables experienced huge growth over the past six months, according to Smiths News, bolstered by “record launch activity”.

The wholesaler published its interim results last week, covering a 26-week period, from the end of August to 2022 to February 2023.

One shots saw an 88% uplift, driven by World Cup football collections and the continuation of strong Premier League and Pokémon trading cards.

Andrew Howell, of Loch Lomond News in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, and winner of this year’s Fed Collectables Retailer of the Year, told Better Retailing he’s recorded growth in his store. “The past six months have been really great for us in the category. We saw a huge rise in sales during the [football] World Cup.”

As a result, he said this gives him hope for long-term success. “I have faith for the future when it comes to sales,” he added. “We saw huge growth during the pandemic, and purchases have slowed compared with that time, but collectables are still selling really well.”

Trading-card publisher Panini’s head of circulation, Rebecca Smith, revealed a “record level” of launch activity has contributed to the category’s strong performance.

“This is a testament to the strength of licences we’ve secured, and a reflection on our strategy to offer the greatest range of collectables to our customers,” she said.

“Football collections continue to drive significant retail sales value. However, we’re having great success with entertainment and gaming launches.”

Elsewhere across Smiths’ business, newspaper revenues were up by 0.5%, which included the benefit of cover-price increases during the second half of last year. Magazine revenue, however, is down by 6%.

The company reported that overall revenue was up by 1%, compared with the same period in the previous year, despite a historic 3.5% decline.

Chief executive officer Jonathan Bunting described the performance as “pleasing”, and “founded on the hard work and focused strategy of the past three years”.

He said: “Our results have benefitted from strong revenues, but are also a consequence of robust cost management and the securing of efficiencies that can be sustained over time.

“Smiths News generates strong and predictable cash flows as demonstrated by a further year-on-year reduction in net debt.

“The business is on-track to meet expectations for the full year and with 65% of publisher contract revenues secured to 2029, we can look ahead with confidence.”

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