Founded in 1989 as Merlin Publishing Ltd, the company's first album was the 'Team 90 Football Sticker Album', after a gap of four years in which they released no football sticker albums, the outfit was awarded the license for the newly established Premier League. This was to be Merlin's big chance, and Merlin's Official Premier League 94 football collection won rave reviews when it was launched in 1994 and has become, annually, the world's best-selling sticker collection. Their success was a surprise even to them as multiple reprints were needed to match demand for the Premier League 94 sticker collection.
By 1995, the company's progress was such that it won the prestigious Price Waterhouse/ Independent on Sunday award for the fastest growing privately held British company. The success was sufficient to catch the eye of the American firm Topps Company Inc., who in 1995 acquired Merlin Publishing, with an aim of expanding their European coverage. The brand was maintained as Merlin Stickers as this was the form in which the company had established their successful sticker series, the name by now was well known and respected by its customers.
Eventually, in 2008 and 2009 Merlin Stickers was rebranded as Topps, with the new Topps Total Football 2009 Premier League sticker album. The series still goes strongly today as the number of sticker collections with a Topps logo on the front now continues to grow.
Did you know...?
We've been contacted by a former Panini employee who has confirmed rumours that suggested Merlin Publishing was initially formed by ex-Panini employees who left the firm when it was bought by the Maxwell Corporation! Our contact says that Peter Dunk, the Panini editor and the sales director Kelvyn Gardner, both set up Merlin with a third individual who'd worked previously at WHSmiths.
This contact also gave us some very interesting information regarding the market surveys done one year in the mid-80's - "over 90% of 9-11 year old males had purchased Panini football stickers that year". Astonishing figures there from this source who went on to describe the product as "selling itself". Thank you for the interesting information!