Yarmouth firm's X Factor coup

Monday, October 19, 2009
10:44 AM

Millions of television viewers tuning into prime time talent shows are gripped by the singing of the would-be stars.

But they will be unaware that in the background of the X Factor and Britain's Got Talent shows are logos emblazoned on banners and backdrops made in Norfolk.

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Millions of television viewers tuning into prime time talent shows are gripped by the singing of the would-be stars.

But they will be unaware that in the background of the X Factor and Britain's Got Talent shows are logos emblazoned on banners and backdrops made in Norfolk.

Yarmouth-based Genite is known locally through its shirt sponsorship of Gorleston football club.

Nationally its work is being beamed into homes as families watch the popular programmes.

Giant X Factor banners made at its premises in Lefevre Way, on the Gapton Hall industrial estate, form part of the setting for the singing wannabes and all-star cast at auditions across the country.

And during the current season of live shows, they still pop up weekly in the follow-on ITV2 Xtra Factor programmes presented by Holly Willoughby.

However, with weeks still to go to discover the successor to Alexandra Burke, the design and production team are already working on their next major television contract - to supply PVC banners for Britain's Got Talent when the next series begins.

Genite founder and managing director Bil Hallaq, 41, confessed it was a “tremendous coup” to have landed two such high-profile television contracts, but added that it has often involved working to the most extreme deadlines.

He said: “Sometimes they will send us over a logo and our graphic designer Lee Protheroe will have only a day or two to turn it into a finished banner. And then they will want it sent to 10 different cities.

“When they are out on location, the banners are an important way of giving the show its identity.”

The father of two grew up in Miami but now regards himself as “almost English” after meeting his Gorleston-born wife Melanie while they were both working on an Alaskan cruise ship and deciding to settle in her home town.

Mr Hallaq was a sales manager for Signwaves signs and display company on Gapton Hall when he realised the potential for taking the business online and persuaded shareholders to help him set up Genite as a sister company.

He said: “At the beginning, it was just me and my PA Tracy Hargreaves, who is now my general manager. Three years later, we employ 14 people here and another six IT and design staff in India.

“Our turnover has gone from little more than £100,000 in our first year to £2m this year and we are predicting strong growth next year as well.”

As well as supplying X Factor and Britain's Got Talent over two series, they have also produced banners for other shows including 60 Minute Makeover.

Mr Hallaq has also successfully diversified, with the Genite Group now selling a wide range of other merchandise online, from office furniture and eco-friendly stationery to artificial plants.

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