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VCI

Video Collection International was a video company based in the UK. It was opened in 1984. Originally part of the Prestwich Group, based in New Southgate, London, the company was subject to a management buyout headed by Steve Ayres CEO and Paddy Toomey (ex-Woolworths) as MD. The vision of "sell through video" was born with the strong Woolworths association driving the retail sales.

With these individuals at the helm, the company expanded rapidly, securing the market lead in retail video sales throughout the mid to late 1980s and into the early to mid-1990s.

The company mainly served as a home video label for ITV television programmes, but launched the Central Video, Granada Media, Thames Video, Channel 4 Video and the Cinema Club labels in the process. The Cinema Club label mainly consisted of re-releases of films from the late 1960s and early 1970s and also had a licensing agreements with Columbia Pictures to re-releases their films.

After suffering financial losses in 1995, the company changed its name to VCI and discontinued the Central Video label. It discontinued the Cinema Club label in 1999 and re-established it under the "FilmFour" name, though the Cinema Club logo would still be used for occasional budgeted titles after that. At its peak VCI plc consisted of Video Collection Ltd, Music Collection Ltd, André Deutsch (book publisher) and Disc Distribution. In 1999 the business was sold to the Kingfisher group.

In 1999, FilmFour began releasing DVDs. The company split into two arms: publishing (VCI) based in Dean Street, London, and VCI Distribution, which also handled third-party distribution for labels outside its own stable, based in Watford and the old premises in New Southgate.

Soon after, the company discontinued Thames Video and introduced the Granada Media label, which would soon appear on most VCI titles. In 2005 Channel 4 Video (later 4DVD) became a separate company.

Following the formation of ITV plc in 2004, VCI created the Granada Ventures division. In 2006, Granada Ventures was rebranded as ITV DVD and in 2009 as ITV Studios Home Entertainment. VCI had by now become part of the Woolworths Group. BBC Worldwide and Woolworths Group merged VCI with BBC Video to create 2 Entertain Video, part of their new joint venture company 2 Entertain.

VCI is perhaps most well known as the main home video distributor for the iconic children's television programme Thomas & Friends.

Confusion often arose between this UK-based company, and the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based home video label VCI Entertainment, founded in 1976 by Bill Blair. At the height of the UK label's popularity, the US-based label rebranded themselves as United Home Video; however, they returned to the VCI name in the mid-'90s and have retained it ever since.

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