Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) Executive Chairman David Ciclitira caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the partnership with The Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation and future plans.
Q1: A very exciting event took place on Friday; can you tell us about your trip to Beijing and the launch of BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise?
A1: Yes, BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise, as we announced before, was going to be launched in Beijing on Friday. We announced on Friday the partnership with Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation, Prince Albert has been a very big supporter of endangered species, wildlife environment, he was in Beijing having an official visit and it seemed a good time for us to announce the partnership. Our Chinese partners are contributing towards the fund and we’re getting technical support from the fund.
What was really fantastic was to meet somebody who has got 2 children and loves LEGO and loves the project we’re going to do which is going globally. We’re moving that project onto Monaco as part of our BRICKLIVE Christmas and it goes on to America and other places in the world. So, to have him as a sort of patron of what we’re doing, it was a real honour and a tremendous thing, I think, for what we’re trying to achieve.
Everything with BRICKLIVE is about education and fun and we’re launching in China, and the rest of the world, a book BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise which is a book that explains the 70 animals and how many are left in the world etc. The education element, his institute and the foundation in Monaco, are helping us which is great.
What was really interesting though was on Saturday morning, we had 2,000 people in the morning, now given that’s it’s going to be in Beijing for 5 weeks, that shows the amount of interest that there was in this. We were in the ‘The Bird’s Nest’, The Bird’s Nest is very famous in Beijing because it was where the Olympic Games were staged, an iconic central point in Beijing and we’re going onto another 19 cities over the next 3 years.
For your listeners, it’s quite important to understand one thing, I didn’t realise there’s 28 million people in Beijing and obviously just over 1.5 billion in China, so China is very very important to BRICKLIVE and I don’t think we could’ve started this in a bigger way than we did last Friday.
Q2: What can you tell us about the show venue and what visitors can actually see there?
A2: Well, there’s 70 animals, full sized, and, this is just from memory, we have a rhino, we have an elephant and we have an 18-foot-high giraffe. It’s divided into four zones, there’s the oceanic zone, there’s the jungle zone, there’s dry land zone and there’s the polar zones. So, in the polar zone for example, you have a Siberian tiger which was interesting because the Siberian tiger, few of these are left in Northern China and Prince Albert travelled to North China to see them. So, these zones, we had a lot of interest we had on orangutan, of course there’s the panda and all that sort of stuff and as I said, it’s a specially created area at The Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
Q3: Just going back to the announcement on Friday, how did Live Company Group first get in contact with the Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation?
A3: Before we get into that, if you don’t mind, but I should give credit to the fact that all of these animals were built by Bright Bricks. Duncan Tidmarsh who is the founder of Bright Bricks was actually there in Beijing and he and I were explaining to Prince Albert how they were built and everything. I have to say great credit to Bright Bricks, they’re fantastic, it was a very good cooperation.
Going back to your point, it all started really because I was sitting in Beijing in January where it was explained to me that the President of China had decided to ban the importation of ivory and obviously that’s a huge step and to support endangered species. So, I thought we’ve got to do something to help and we’d done some animals, they were animals being done by Bright Bricks, and I thought let’s create a whole programme, Animal Paradise, and we’ve registered Animal Paradise globally.
The people in Monaco had wanted us to take BRICKLIVE there for some time, they’ve got a great facility, and we’d agreed to do a show at Christmas which we’d previously announced, and one thing led to another really, we started to talk and they’re very nice people. The Foundation, I went to an awards programme that the Foundation ran, and I heard Prince Albert speak and I realised how committed he was, and it’s taken 4 or 5 years for them to arrange a formal visit to China, so we just synced our launch in with him.
Obviously, we’ve not been able to announce it until last Friday, so it was all hush hush, but I can’t tell you how amazing it was, there’s a great picture of a kid playing with Prince Albert building stuff, it’s really great, it’s what BRICKLIVE is all about.
Q4: How will you be working with the Monaco Foundation in the future?
A4: Well, as I said, first thing we’re going to be doing is actually at Christmas time, we’ll be running a BRIKLIVE Animal Paradise there and producing a publication print. This is quite interesting, we’re going to invite about 25 Chinese local educational city ministers to Monaco after Christmas for a seminar about the whole project and they want to introduce this into the school curricular in these cities so that’s obviously super exciting.
It all goes back to this education, I won’t bore you, but we’ve only really been around since just over 2 years when the whole project started but education has always been core to me and that’s something we’ll be working towards. You need something to base education around, so I think this whole project is global in scope, it’s something that we can build the brand of BRICKLIVE on, so the education element is crucial to the cooperation I think.
Q5: I think you’ve touched on this but what are the future plans for BRICKLIVE, Live Company Group in China and for Animal Paradise?
A5: Well, in China, we already have got a BRICKLIVE Centre at Fulong, which is the Olympic centre, and remember that China is hosting the 2022 Olympics so to be there now is incredible and we’ve also announced that we’re launching, at the end of this month, a new centre in Shanghai. Yesterday, we launched BRICKLIVE Kids that went live in a mall in Beijing and we’ve got cafes underway as well.
What I think Friday did for us is it gave great scope of what we’ll be working towards, it’s underwritten by a company called SEEC in China, and even the people underwriting the shows they were basically blown away by it all.
So, I think we’re going to build a big brand in China and everything, as I’ve always said, is about the brand. I’ve said for some time that I think the two areas of interest to me are Far East where we’ve obviously started off well, but specifically China, and also the United States. We’ll be announcing formally some stuff later on, but we will be taking BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise to the United States in the early part of next year.