West Lothian man’s idea is making Disney $3bn a year

Growing up in Whitburn, all he could dream of was becoming a professional musician.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 4th March 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 11:17 am
Andy Mooney. Pic: Contributed
Andy Mooney. Pic: Contributed

His dad was a coal miner who wished him during his high school years to be the first in the family to “work with your head instead of your hands”.

And Andy Mooney went on to do just that, having a career that includes the transformation of sport brand Nike and developed a multi-billion dollar Disney Princess franchise.

The savvy businessman never imagined a Disney on Ice show in Arizona would be where he would get a brainwave that continues to earn Disney more than $3bn (£2.4bn) a year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, with Mr Mooney being told by Roy E. Disney, nephew of founder Walt, that the idea could get him fired.

“I was stood next to the mums and daughters dressed head to foot in Princess outfits,” he said. “They told me they’d made them themselves because they weren’t available to buy. I suggested if we made them, would they buy them and they responded ‘yes, lots’.

“Roy hated the idea saying no two characters from any two movies can be seen in the same play together. The studio felt it would destroy the morphology of the stories. But we created a line pretty quickly and it was a phenomenal success.”

Mr Mooney and his team didn’t stop at introducing dresses worn by popular Disney characters, they also created books, DVDs, dolls, magazines and much more.

After studying at St Mary’s High School in Bathgate, Mr Mooney decided to skip college to pursue his dream as a musician.

His first job was as a trainee accountant at Uniroyal tyre plant in Newbridge before a stint at Cameron Iron Works in Livingston and England.

It was in 1980 at the age of 25 when he got the job as chief finance officer of Nike in the UK.

But after moving to the marketing team it wasn’t long before he was snapped up to join Nike’s head office in Oregon.

Mr Mooney says his business ideas are revolved around sustainability with his first real moneymaker coming from behind the wheel of his Porsche 924.

“I pulled up and someone came up beside me in a yellow Porsche Sebring 924. I did some research and it turned out it was my car but with upgraded upholstery and was worth an extra £5,000.” It was at this stage when he wondered if the same theory could be replicated in the trainer industry.

“We took the highest priced shoes, upgraded the leather and charged 25 per cent more. People bought them in droves and Nike continue to sell limited edition stock today.”

The 63-year-old spent 20 years at Nike before moving to Disney in the role of head of consumer product.

After 11 years he moved to Quiksilver before getting the gig of heading up one of the world’s most iconic guitar brands, Fender.

Mr Mooney already boasted a collection of 60 guitars, stored in a custom made room in his Los Angeles home, when he joined the firm in 2015, and visits his homeland up to four times a year to see his family.

“It has been an unbelievable ride,” he said. “My advice to young people is go where the opportunity is.”