Just Group lands £3m sweet deal

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The Independent Online

America is set for an invasion of the Jellabies. Not to be confused with old favourites Jelly Babies, they're what creators Just Group hopes will become the next big thing with fickle American children.

America is set for an invasion of the Jellabies. Not to be confused with old favourites Jelly Babies, they're what creators Just Group hopes will become the next big thing with fickle American children.

Jellabies are characters from the Jelly Telly Show, a television series currently broadcast on GMTV and aimed at pre-school children.

Tomorrow, Just Group, an AIM-listed media company, will announce that it has secured a £3m deal to broadcast the show on Rupert Murdoch's Fox Family Channel.

As well as the TV series - starting in October and to run for 15 months - Just Group also hopes to cash in on the Jellabies by marketing the rights to toy-makers. In addition, Just Group will reveal the appointment of Loren Taylor, formerly with toy-maker Mattel, as its North American boss, to back the US push. Wilf Shorrocks, Just Group chief executive, said: "The US is a tremendous platform for the company. We anticipate a positive impact on earnings this year."

Just Group, which has a market capitalisation of £66.7m, develops intellectual property rights for children's enter-tainment. Along with the Jellabies, it owns the Butt-Ugly Martians, Pinky & Perky, Macdonald's Farm and Star Hill Ponies. Just Group is now considering launching these products in the US. Butt-Ugly Martians will hit the UK in September.

Since July 1999, Just Group's shares have yo-yoed, peaking at 16p at the top of the boom in internet and telecoms stocks. Shares closed at 9.25p on Friday. The Group broke even last year.

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