How Netflix, Disney and tech are helping business boom at Manchester celebrity cut-out & mask business

The firm can now be quick to react to popular trends in TV and film when making it new quirky products.

We’ve probably all posed with one in a cinema foyer or a theme park - but where does those lifesize cut outs of movie characters and other famous names come from?

One firm in Tameside makes them on demand - and is using new tech to help predict the next big thing in the entertainment world.

Characters from Disney smash hits and Star Wars have always been popular, but now Star Cutouts, based in Ashton-under-Lyne, is using trend analysis software and artificial intelligence to help them stay ahead of the curve.

The firm’s biggest selling cut-outs include Harry Potter, Jurassic World dinosaurs, Minions and Shrek, while Moana, Frozen, Rapunzel, Peppa Pig and WWE wrestling are among the top-selling masks.

Star Cutouts' Jurassic World products

But predicting what will be popular next is key and that’s where the tech comes in.

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The firm’s new software will monitor a huge archive of characters, as well as identify new trends and analyse other metrics including geography. Using Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, the business can now react quickly to viral programmes like Netflix’s mega-hit Squid Game, and have cut-outs and masks rolling off production lines and into fans’ hands more speedily.

Ian Ravey, Managing Director of Star Cutouts with some of his products

Primed for growth

Ian Ravey, managing director, believes the business can increase sales and turnover five-fold to £10m within the next five years, as one of the trickiest parts of their business has been forecasting which personality to choose for their products.

He said: “Selecting the right character is extremely time consuming as it involves research via social media to spot who and what is trending.

Star Cutouts manufacturing process in Tameside

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“Sentiment also changes so quickly day to day. When you are spending a considerable amount on licensing agreements you need to be confident in your investment...

“Big data and analytics offer a huge and exciting opportunity for us to not just be quicker to react to trends, but to influence them.

“The increased accuracy of our product launches will save a considerable amount of time and resources, making much better use of our talented design team. We will be able to use that efficiency to focus on growth.”

Donna Edwards, Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme director, added: “We are delighted to be supporting Star Cutouts on its digital transformation. It is a fantastic example of a business using technology to transform how it designs, tests and manufactures products.”