Ian Miles 1936-2018
Ian Miles, founder of Abbey Home Media, has died after illness, here former and current colleagues and Abbey under wife and business partner Anne Miles pay tribute to the industry pioneer and charity fundraiser.
“It is with enormous sadness we announce the passing of Ian Miles. Ian has been one of the driving forces in the world of music and children’s entertainment for nearly 50 years.
“Ian was born in Exeter in 1936 and started his career in the Royal Navy at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, after the war, at the age of just 13. After travelling the world to such places as Australia, India, Ceylon and Cape Town Ian left the Navy with the rank of First Lieutenant in his early 20s.
“After the Navy Ian had numerous sales and marketing roles before joining Bristol Mayers, quickly being promoted from Sales Manager to Managing Director. It was here, in 1972, that he met his wife Anne (arranging a promotion for Miss World!) and together they went on to become a tour de force in the entertainment industry.
“After successfully running a company selling excess stock for music labels such as EMI, Decca, Pie, CBS and RCA, Ian bought two record factories and set up his own company called Multiple Sounds Distribution. This company was catapulted to success following an agreement between Ian and Richard Branson to manufacture and distribute Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
“Ian subsequently started one of Britain’s most successful music labels, Warwick Records, in the early 70’s selling millions of albums from artists such as Howard Keel, Tammy Wynette and Bert Weedon. They were pioneers of the music industry and established music labels for both Woolworths and Boots. Warwick Records was also innovative in being the first company to release an exercise album with ITV’s fitness guru Lizzie Webb.
“In 1989 Ian and Anne changed directions and brought all their experience and expertise to children’s home entertainment by founding Abbey Home Entertainment (AHE). Abbey became producers of top quality children’s programmes with Tempo Video and later both production and distribution with Abbey Home Media. Abbey were the first company to take children’s classic books from authors such as Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Michael Bond and produce them on video. Abbey were also the first to sell book and cassette gift packs for children. Ian, Anne and Abbey had huge success with the Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, Transformers, Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, Horrid Henry, Sooty, In The Night Garden, Mr Men, Fireman Sam, Bob The Builder and many, many more.
“In addition to the commercial business Ian and Abbey have also supported many charitable initiatives including, most recently, releasing a compilation DVD that raised more than £40,000 for BBC’s Children In Need.
“Outside of work Ian previously enjoyed a shoot and loved the pets that he and Anne owned over the years including their beloved dog Harry, a Shetland Pony, Donkeys and 2 goats bought from Harrods!
“Ian leaves behind his beloved wife Anne, daughter Francesca, son in law Patrick and grandchildren Sam and Livvie along with his work family at Abbey who will all miss him dearly. A memorial for Ian in London is being planned for October.
“Rest In Peace Ian and God Bless You.”
“I went to work for Ian and Anne on the 2nd January 2001 – that’s nearly 18 years ago. I can honestly say it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Working with Ian and Anne is like working with your family. They have, for me, become I suppose maternal and paternal figures in my life. They have always been kind, generous and supportive and above all its safe to say that pretty much every day we’ve had a good giggle. I along with so many other industry figures have been mentored in the Miles School of Business, his business achievements have been truly remarkable. He was a such a gentleman and such good company. His stories of past business dealings with Liberace, Doris Day, Richard Branson to name just a tiny few always fascinated me so, I could talk to him hours. Despite his health challenges in recent times he never lost the capacity to smile and laugh and was still fully switched on phoning me from his hospital bed on a Sunday night a couple of weeks before he died asking how business was! He had such a fighting spirit it seems impossible to think of him gone from our lives. Thank you Ian for all your support and love over the last 18 years. I will miss you more than you’ll ever know and may God Bless You and Rest In Peace.”
Sales and acquisitions director
Abbey Home Media
“To the wonderful man Ian miles who I called Captain, I will always remember him with a smile, he will never be forgotten.”
National account manager
Abbey Home Media
It’s an over used phrase, but in this case totally appropriate, to say it was a privilege to know and work with Ian. A kind and generous man but also exceptionally smart. He will be sadly missed.
Universal and VVL
“I worked for Ian and Anne for three memorable years in the late 1980s, just as the VHS was starting to show signs that an industry may be upon us. I was one of their first two employees employed specifically in a new venture called MSD Video. We very quickly struck a number of deals including one with the Samuel Goldwyn Company and our very first release ‘Transformers – Arrival From Cybertron turned out to be a great indicator that there would be money to be made in selling content directly to consumers on a physical piece of product.
“Ian understood the changing world of media very well and had fantastic business acumen, he adapted his business to make the most of new opportunity. Having already made a success of the TV-advertised compilation album and Book and Tape business, he built a great team, the legacy of which can still be found across the industry today. He will be remembered as an early innovator into sell through before any of the studios had started to release titles straight to retail and paved the way for the industry we’ve known and loved for over 30 years,. He certainly gave me a big break in my career, I still recall him asking me when giving me a lift in his blue Rolls Royce, what line of work I wanted to do, I recall saying marketing and from there he gave me the opportunity to work on some great brands and releases. Ian was a great family man and he and his amazing wife Anne, must surely be the greatest husband and wife team in our business. For me, you can forget Disney, they ran the best children’s DVD label in our industry.”
Paul Holland, now at Dazzler Media
“Anne and Ian had a formidable partnership, underpinned by a strong family ethos which could be felt in everything they did, from the range of children’s titles they acquired and commissioned, the charitable causes they campaigned and raised funds for, their support for BASE and its activities and in the kindness they showed to me as DG of the British Video Association. Ian is immortalised, along with Anne, by the two teddy-bears they gave me when my first son was born, which are called Ian (the brown growly bear) and Anne (the pretty towelling bear). My thoughts are with Anne and their lovely family.”
Lavinia Carey, BASE consultant and former director general of the BVA
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