Blue Kangaroo Design

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Blue Kangaroo Design's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Blue Kangaroo Design is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director Jason Knights
Working with global brands
Based in Gateshead, Blue Kangaroo Design is a brand
strategy and design agency who work in the toy and
licensing industry. Founded in 2006, Blue Kangaroo create
brands and designs for a range of clients within the creative
sector and have seen rapid growth as a result of the export
strategy that they adopted in 2014. Managing Director and
founder Jason Knights discusses their recent success exporting
their services, particularly in the USA, and he reflects on his
strategy that aims to secure a sustainable future for theagency.
At Blue Kangaroo, we work with a diverse range of clients within the brand
licensing and toy sector. Our first major client was The Disney Store in 2006 and
since then we have worked with organisations including 20th Century Fox, the
BBC, Lucasfilm, Universal Studios, Pixar and National Geographic. Our work has
helped our clients break into the high street but also online markets, while our
skilled creative team have produced designs for animated movies as well as feature
films. Recently, we have established a relationship with National Geographic. Our
creative team will create asset packs that will support the brand, in turn helping
them to launch new ranges of products with partners throughout Europe, the
Middle East and Africa. National Geographic want to embrace the fact that
children and adults love adventure and exploration, and we hope to reflect that in
our work.
We have the capability to offer our clients a variety of services; our creative team
can help implement brand guidelines, assist in product development, create
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 2006
»Based in Gateshead
»Number of employees: 11
»Services: Brand strategy
agency that works within the
toy and licensing industry
Blue Kangaroo Design
Highlighting best practice
exhibition stands and design print and
packaging for products. Our versatility
is a testament to our team, who are
able to offer a variety of personalised
designs for numerous organisations
around the world.
Our journey
I established Blue Kangaroo in 2006,
shortly before the financial crisis, and
the subsequent recession, began.
Initially, I had planned on building a
client base in the northeast of England,
but as a result of the challenging
financial climate we were unable to
establish a portfolio of clients.
We started doing licensing work for
The Disney Store in 2006 and for a
long time they provided 70 per cent
of our turnover. I began to notice that
numerous US-based companies that
had previously been using Europe-
based agencies for design and licensing
were taking the work in-house. As
a result, I decided we needed to
start targeting US-based companies
and persuading them that we could
provide the services they needed, while
bringing additional benefits.
In 2014 I approached the Department
for International Trade’s North East
team, who gave me some great advice
and support to enable us to start our
export journey. I then travelled over to
the USA to meet prospective clients
and pitch them our services. We
returned with a number of contracts
and 60 per cent of our turnover is now
from our US clients.
US-based companies like the fact that
we live in a different time-zone, as it
allows work to be completed around
Exhibition design and
Global partners
The DIT gave
me some great
advice and
support to
enable us to
start our export
the clock. We often have a conference
call with our US-based clients as they
start work in the morning, which
allows us to report on our progress
and discuss strategy for the next day.
They appreciate our honesty and
straightforward approach, and we
were able to build plenty of trust on
the trip with organisations we have
worked with on multiple occasions
since. Once we had cemented a
client base in the USA, clients would
use our services after they moved to
new companies, which led to further
expansion. Because of our progress
in the US, the impact of Brexit on
our business has been minimised,
which partly explains our attempts to
expand into China, Australia and India.
Exports now make up 80 per cent
of our turnover, and we expect that
Brexit will have a negligible effect. As
a result of our success working with
US-based companies, our turnover has
nearly doubled since 2014, to £1.4
million. This has enabled us to develop
our creative team which in turn has
given us the ability to take on more
challenging projects.
Licensing within the toy market
has proved a sustainable sector to
trade in. We mostly work with large
organisations, who provide quick
feedback and pay us on time and
in full – in the past, some smaller
businesses have not paid us for our
work. Recently we have been involved
in the design of a 40,000-piece jigsaw
puzzle, and the jigsaw manufacturer
worked on a seven-day invoice run.
For a smaller organisation like ours this
provides us with stability, and allows us
to deliver our best work.
Overcoming our challenges as
we move forward
The biggest challenge we will face
going forward is maintaining a
sustainable growth trajectory. At the
moment, we have potential clients but
we do not have the capacity to take
on more business. I want to ensure
when recruiting that we are not
overstretching ourselves and that new
business is likely to continue. We work
within a niche industry, and as a result,
reputations can be destroyed as quickly
as they are built, so caution is required.
Our main aim is to consolidate our
progress and find efficiencies so we
can expand our workload. Ensuring
the stability of the business and
moving forward at a sustainable
pace is essential. I am aware of the
potential of the Asian markets, and
would like to build a larger client
base in China and India. A key part
of any potential expansion would be
establishing a more secure relationship
with our clients. Ideally, we could
work on a retainer more often, rather
than waiting to be given individual
contracts. Increased security in our
contracts would enable us to improve
our services and grow the business
so we can take on more work.
The calibre of our work and clients
provides a glimpse of our potential,
so I am confident we can take positive
steps forward, provided we follow a
strategy that aims at sustainable and
Exports now
make up 80
per cent of
our turnover
Character development

This article was sponsored by Blue Kangaroo Design. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy