Mamma Mia! production firm bounces back into profit after Covid slump

Exclusive: Littlestar Services files pre-tax profits of £316,000 after previous year’s £752,000 loss

The production company behind the Mamma Mia! musical and film adaptations has bounced back into the black since theatres reopened after the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Littlestar Services, the company founded by Abba stars Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, has recorded a profit in a swift recovery from pandemic lockdowns, which threw the theatre industry into crisis.

Accounts recently filed at Companies House show the firm notched up pre-tax profits of £316,405 in the year to March 2022 on sales of £7.68m – a significant improvement on the £752,614 pre-tax loss and £5.5m of sales registered a year earlier.

Andersson and Ulvaeus are directors of the company alongside Judy Craymer, the show’s producer. It did not pay out a dividend last year.

After forming Abba in 1972 with Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Andersson and Ulvaeus went on to amass a fortune through hits including Dancing Queen and Waterloo.

Littlestar was founded in 1996 by Andersson, Ulvaeus, Craymer and the producer Richard East to create the London stage musical of the Swedish pop group’s hits. The company now produces and licenses theatre, film, television and music related to the smash-hit band.

The company said the results were “slightly above expectations” and reflected “the successful reopening of the group’s theatrical productions, which occurred in the summer of 2021, together with an increase in income from first class and secondary licensed productions during the year”.

“The directors expect the next year to produce similar but improved results as more productions open worldwide,” it said.

Mamma Mia! – a story based around family and friendship set on a Greek island – has been seen on stage in more than 400 cities by more than 65 million people. It was made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan which premiered in 2008 and grossed more than $600m globally. A follow-up, starring Cher and Lily James, was released in 2018.

Littlestar hit the headlines in 2021 when HMRC documents showed that it and a sister company had received £50,000 each to furlough staff despite the wealth of its founders. Andersson, 76, is estimated to have a personal wealth of more than $200m and Ulvaeus, 77, $300m. Littlestar said at the time that employees of its UK theatrical productions had been furloughed to “keep them employed as long as possible”.

Last year the Abba Voyage show launched in east London. The production, which is not part of Littlestar, is staged in a purpose-built arena with digital avatars of the band performing the songs.


Alex Lawson

The GuardianTramp

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