Hollywood stars in its own business blockbuster


Setting the stage for the glittering premieres of tinsel-town blockbusters at one of Europe’s top retail and leisure destinations is helping a Birmingham-based company really live up to its name.

Hollywood Monster, the signs and graphics specialists, is providing the backdrop to major movie launches attended by some of the world’s top film stars including Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon and Jack Black.

It’s the latest business breakthrough for the company that takes the first part of its name not from the California home of the movie industry, but from the leafy suburb near Wythall, south of Birmingham, where John Andrews and son Tim first established the company.

More than 20 years later Tim, now managing director, is helping to lead the company into an exciting  era in which a major investment in technology is creating business opportunities in new sectors.

Over two decades it has grown an impressive client portfolio including Westfield’s backdrops for high profile movie premieres. Among those projects was the recent UK premiere of Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon’s movie Water For Elephants.

The circus-focused movie inspired the Hollywood Monster team to create the circus-ring themed set, including a 27-metre broadcast wall, coverings for the circular stage, and podiums for Pattinson and Witherspoon to greet their fans.

Such glitz and glamour is becoming standard stuff for Tim and the team, who also dressed the centre for Mariah Carey’s Christmas lights switch-on in 2009 and are now preparing for this summer’s premiere of animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 2, starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.

The dream projects became a reality for Hollywood Monster after winning contracts with Westfield London, the innovative and iconic retail and leisure venue which showcases 700 brands through 275 luxury, premium and high street stores.

Hollywood Monster began working with the centre to highlight its extensive retail offering – Westfield London is home to five flagship stores; House of Fraser, Debenhams, Next, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose and many other household names including top designer brands.

However, the team was really able to flex its creative muscles when it was called upon to work closely with Vue Westfield – the UK’s biggest and most technologically advanced, fully digital, 14 screen multiplex cinema.

With more than 82,000 sq ft of cinema space, 14 wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling fully stadium seated screens, including five 3D enabled screens, three screens of premium luxury and a VueXtreme, large-format screens offering customers a ‘super-sized’ sound and vision experience; this is Vue Entertainment’s most ambitious development to date, and Westfield wanted to be sure that visitors were hit by the wow factor when they attended premieres.

With such A-list contracts, perhaps the business could have been forgiven for relocating to London but Tim is adamant that he won’t abandon his roots. The company does, however, have a London office from which it services its clients in the capital and the south east.

Tim and his father John started Hollywood Signs with a £35,000 investment 20 years ago. Specialising in offering marketing and signage solutions to the property and construction sector, the business thrived over the next decade. The company then invested £500,000 into Monster Digital. The second business focused on signage, exhibitions and installations, and the two companies operated side by side with great success until October 2008.

“When the recession hit,” recalls Tim, “the property and construction sectors were hit harder than most and it had a big impact on us.”

The decision was made to amalgamate the two businesses in 2009, forming Hollywood Monster. The move made it a much stronger company and it has gone on to win major contracts and industry awards.

Just 18 months later, the company has established a portfolio of diverse, high profile clients including Next, Birmingham City Football Club, McDonalds, Virgin Media and Westfield.

Now, the business has achieved its goal of being the largest graphics solutions expert in Birmingham, delivering services to clients all over the UK. While property and construction still forms a core part of Hollywood Monster’s remit, working with clients including King Sturge, Redrow Homes and Barratt Homes, the business has also established itself in retail, providing it with huge scope for its creativity.

“We’ve diversified enormously,” says Tim. “While retail used to represent just 10 per cent of the business’ workload, it is now 60 per cent. The potential with the scale of the projects we’re working on is huge. They enable us to demonstrate our creative thinking and pull together some outstanding work.

“I am Birmingham born and bred, the business was founded in and named after the region I grew up in and there is no better place to base the business,” he says. “As far as location goes, we’re right in the centre of the country, so we can access the whole of the UK with ease.

“We’re thrilled to be working on such high profile contracts, but we still have an enormous amount of work here in the Midlands  – we’re responsible for much of the signage at Birmingham’s outdoor markets, at stadia in the region, and at The Mailbox, as well as a great deal of on-going construction and property clients.”

And while Hollywood Monster is one of the suppliers of choice for the Olympics 2012, being responsible for the mile-long hoarding concealing the London stadium while work is in progress in the run up to the event next summer, the business is equally committed to its Midlands sporting links – working with West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City FC and, on a financial level, sponsoring Birmingham City Ladies FC.

“It’s the dedication to each project that ensures our portfolio grows. The beauty of our products is that they are so visual. We don’t need to explain what we do to people, because we can show them. The work speaks for itself. We’re one of the largest employers in the region and we have a strong, fun, creative and dynamic team. They love what they do; they’re not afraid to push the boundaries and bring really great ideas to the table,” says Tim.

That faith in his team has given Tim and the management team the confidence to put an ambitious development plan in place, with an aim to take the business to £10 million by 2015 through investing in state-of-the-art equipment to advance and manage larger and wider-spread contracts.

Having recently invested £500,000 in equipment to tackle what Tim calls ‘the bottleneck’ of incoming projects and improve the output and quality of Hollywood Monster’s work, the business is well on track to achieve its goal.

“As far as a USP goes for us, it’s an end-to-end process. We offer dedicated project management to ensure that every aspect of our work meets the brief. With certain projects, there can be a tight deadline; certainly the Water For Elephants project had a very fast turnaround, but that’s all taken into account by the project management team.

“We work with the client to ensure that we exceed their expectations, devising creative approaches to promote their business, and supplying and installing the work so that we’re satisfied it’s exhibited to its best advantage. We take enormous pride in what we do and that’s reflected in the work we supply and the repeat contracts we win.

“We’re delighted with the route the business has taken, and while there have been some peaks and troughs along the way, we’re determined to ensure we keep aiming high.”




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