Many happy returns

Boomerang breakthrough from the company that juggled its way to success

A BRITISH company is about to despatch 300 boomerangs to Australia, and doesn't expect any of them to come back.

As a marketing triumph, it is on a par with selling English wine to the French or cowboy hats to Texas. While the market for its juggling equipment may have peaked, the company, More Balls Than Most, is proving that it still has plenty of bounce. And cheek.

The deal was struck at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Myriam Duetz, men's gift buyer for David Jones, the Australian department store, was touring a trade show there when she called in at the More Balls stand. Step forward Sally Marlow, international sales manager. "I'd love to sell you this," she beamed, and whipped out a polished piece of curved birch, measuring 15 inches from tip to tip, and lovingly crafted in the outback of Northampton.

Ms Duetz was impressed, particularly by the packaging. Each box is decorated with surreal Monty Python-style graphics. It contains not only the boomerang but also a little tin of wax polish and a booklet that makes it plain this is a Pom product.

"I think the Aussies love that in-your-face cheekiness," says Ms Marlow. "It's really an executive toy for the man who has everything. It should go well on Australian Fathers' Day."

Like many multiples, David Jones is already selling the juggling kit that More Balls Than Most helped turn into a craze in in 1990.

Charlie Fairbairn was a computer consultant in the City during the 1980s. He spotted a gap in the market after being taught to juggle one night. When he wanted to buy the equipment, he had to go to Amsterdam. He returned with a suitcase full of balls, set up a stall in Covent Garden and sold the lot in a day.

With his partner, Adam Gardner, he set up in business in Bermondsey, south London, behind the London Wool, Leather and Hide Exchange (and bought a pub there, now renamed the Jugglers Arms) sub-contracting the manufacture of balls and clubs. The firm has since sold 200,000 kits, not just in Britain but also in America, Germany, France and Scandanavia.

But crazes do not last. Non-juggling products now account for 40 per cent of its business in Britain. The boomerang is one manifestation. Balloon kits are another. Each comes with careful instructions on how to build your own blow-up Harley Davidson motorbike, Viking helmet or dinner party, complete with lobster thermidor.

"We're about introducing old ideas in a new way for adults," said Mr Fairbairn. "We appeal to the child in everyone." Regular brain-storming sessions are held in the Jugglers Arms. Ideas are "thrown around", but the company is deadly serious about the ones it adopts. Designers are involved, prototypes developed, market research assiduously carried out. "The most important thing," said Mr Fairbairn, "is to understand the psyche of the person you're selling to."

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments