The Business On... Noddy, Sports car driver, Toytown

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The Independent Online

Is this a rubbish gag about some underperforming businessman?

Far from it. Noddy is a business leader in his own right. He's one of the stars of the show at Chorion, the media group that owns the rights to the works of Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, among others, as well as the Mr Men and Little Miss series.



So how's Noddy doing?

Pretty well, actually. At the grand old age of 60 – though he doesn't look a day over six – Noddy saw his TV show relaunched on Five by Chorion last year and a gratifying increase in merchandising sales was the result (though the closure of Woolworths, an important sales outlet, was a blow). After the Mr Men and Little Misses, who, after all, share the work, Noddy is the most important contributor to revenues at Chorion.



His parents must be very proud

Well, his creator Enid Blyton is sadly no longer with us, but Chorion's chairman, Lord Ali – or Waheed as Noddy probably calls him – is now in loco parentis and is pretty pleased. When the peer joined Chorion, it was listed on the Alternative Investment Market but, with the help of venture capitalist 3i, he took it private in 2006. Last year's 11 per cent rise in profit was another strong performance after uplifts of 40 per cent or more in the two previous years.



Lord Ali? That name rings a bell

Like Noddy, you mean? Very droll, but yes, Lord Ali is something of a media mogul, having co-founded a TV production company and run the content business at Carlton Television. A Labour supporter, he was asked by Tony Blair to join the House of Lords in 1998. At 34, he became the youngest ever life peer, and the first who is openly gay.



And what will Noddy do next?

The speculation is that Lord Ali plans to float Chorion once more. A return to the stock market would net him and his fellow managers significant windfalls and the time looks right. After several years of investment in new brands – Olivia, which shows on Nickelodeon, and Octonauts, due for its premiere on the BBC this autumn, are two hopes – business is on the up. Make way for Noddy, you might say.

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