THE PAST 12 months have certainly been eventful for Copyright Promotions Licensing Group and Katarina Dietrich.
Since her appointment as CEO six months ago, Dietrich has witnessed huge success for The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer (in France and Spain), The FA (in the UK), Strawberry Shortcake (France), Spider-man 3 merchandising (Benelux, France and Iberia), Peanuts (GAS, Iberia and France) and WWE (UK and Portugal amongst others).
On top of this, Dietrich has also overseen a number of new product signings across a number of territories – such as Skel Animals (a design concept signed for Italy, France, Benelux and Iberia); CBS for its classic TV series like CSI and Star Trek (various territories); Mr Men for Chorion (Benelux); Rupert Bear for Entertainment Rights (France); Tutti Cutti from Sambro (France); and Elvis Presley (Europe) to name just a few.
To start from the beginning of her career, Dietrich started work at Merchandising Munchen in 1987, leaving as joint MD in 1996 to open up CPLG’s German office. She passed the mantle on to Gerold Kolenbrander, taking on the role of director of entertainment of the CPLG Group before finally moving on to CEO.
In short, she’s got a raft of experience and knowledge and isn’t afraid to wield it.
CPLG’s secret, says Dietrich, is in its licensed line-up: “Our mixed portfolio of classic properties like The Simpsons, Dora, Marvel, Bratz, Sesame Workshop and Peanuts, TV-driven characters like Horrid Henry, as well as movie events and sport brands such as St Andrews Golf allows us to cater to different audiences and different retailers in the market. As a result, we are at an advantage at a time when properties are suffering from market consolidation.
“It is our aim always to establish a long-term relationship with our licensors and properties, to first develop and establish them in the market and nourish them over a long period of time.”
She’s rightly proud of the people she works with at CPLG, citing their professional experience, as well as the company’s pan-European set up, the work ethic and long-term staff as the things that set it apart from other agencies. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we don’t have a quick turnaround and work with the majority of our licensors on a long-term basis.”
Refreshingly, Dietrich isn’t one for rambling answers to questions. She’s short and to the point.
What’s her view on recent industry acquisitions? “We’re likely to see more and more consolidation happening. Our markets are so fully developed that significant growth can only be achieved by means of acquisition and increasing market share.”
How will this affect the licensing landscape? “Not much – it will just mean that fewer players would control more properties.”
Would CPLG look to acquire firms to grow its portfolio? “Of course, if it were to fit the company structure and strategic view.”
How important is direct-to-retail? “From my point of view, extremely. However, one has to be mindful not to alienate our equally important licensees.”
You get the impression that Dietrich doesn’t mess around – which is also probably a part of CPLG’s success. So, what does she see as being the big challenges within the licensing market going forward? “Market saturation, price pressure, increasing concerns about health issues for children and a shorter lifecycle of newly-introduced properties,” states Dietrich. And how is CPLG preparing itself? “By developing new categories which have not yet used licensed properties to attract their consumers. We will also look for long-term strategic deals and pinpoint trends before others do.”
And where does Dietrich see CPLG in five years’ time? “As strong and prosperous as ever.” And you wouldn’t want to bet against her.