Banking on Bolt

American company boosts revenues on US$35,000 photographs of sprint king

BY NEKIESHA REID Business reporter

Sunday, August 12, 2012    

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AUTOGRAPHED pictures of Usain Bolt disappeared from London shelves as he became the first man to win both the 100- and 200-metre titles at consecutive Olympic games.

Signed photos of Bolt sold out at US-based stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons Group Plc (SGI) last Monday, a day after Bolt set an Olympic record in the 100-metre race, according to the American magazine, Businessweek.

Increasing the cost of the pictures to £250 ($35,000) — more than double what the first set cost — still did not prevent customers from storming the dealer again after the 25-yearold athlete won the gold medal in the 200 metres on Thursday.

“It was a good investment,” CEO Michael Hall told the publication, adding that the London games are expected to boost SGI’s revenue by five per cent.

SGI’s gross profit increased by eight per cent to £1.8 million ($250 million) for the first half of the year, Businessweek reported, with gold coins and other Olympic commemorative items sold to Chinese customers earning the company an additional £500,000 ($70 million).

SGI specialises in the retailing of collectable postage stamps and has been around for a 156 years.

However, it may soon move away from retailing and into service where it will be able to receive higher commission rates, Hall said.

The risk of higher interest rates rising over the long-term means SGI wants to have less stock.

Instead, the company aims to take further advantage of the US$10 billion stamp-collection market by zeroing in on lowervalue collectors and establishing an online trading community like EBay, he said.

“It’s a collector market that’s rising,” Hall said. “They are building a collection but they also see it as a store of wealth, and the ease of access to buying online has made the market more liquid.”

In the meantime, Great Britain’s performance at the Olympics has boosted SGI’s stamp sales, the company said, since more stamps sheets than was expected sold because of the team’s medal tally.





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