“Early signs show that 2010 will have been a positive year for stationery. We started the year in a strong position with deals already in place from 2009 for our key properties. Earlier in the year we also renewed a key partnership with International Greetings/Copywrite for Dora for a further two years.
Retail listings have got off to a good start and we’ve seen some growth in new areas such as promotional retail spots. Children really identify with our brands and want to take them to school. However, retailers are becoming risk averse due to the economic climate and therefore backing fewer lines, even with key brands.
Our new retail listings, such as Ryman’s for Spongebob and iCarly for Tesco, have certainly increased our partners’ confidence, but it is still a difficult market so we can’t be complacent. The fact that licensees are working up new product lines with new and refreshed style guides shows their confidence from a long-term perspective.
The strength of our brands means that we have experienced a willingness from retailers to support newer lines. Retailers are also willing to back new promotional mechanics which shows a positivity towards our ranges and licensees. Our partners offer product that fits across the three categories of retailers – from value, through to grocers and high-end High Street outlets – and the products are cost effective and flexible across categories.
However, it’s been necessary to think outside traditional models for stationery. Such as creating cross product category ranges for properties, united by style guides, which include stationery, such as we did with Tesco. The store was the first to receive the refreshed 2011 style guide for iCarly and put product onto shelves in a ‘back to school’ fixture. This included stationery, bags, backpacks and lunchware. This takes stationery away from the traditional standalone approach to listings.
It’s also becoming important to make specific ranges for retailers so they can target their customers more effectively. For example, with Spongebob we have a great boy skewed line with Tesco, a more feminine and novelty range with Claire’s Accessories and a kids-orientated range with Toys R Us. These tailor made ranges really suit retailers’ needs and help make the partnerships work more effectively.
With back to school now well and truly put to bed, the focus moves to Christmas gift opportunities and planning for 2011.
Ultimately, I think multiple category offerings which include stationery will grow the sector, as well as new properties which have not previously had stationery lines.”