Lavish Rights launched the Luv Me Buddies brand from scratch in just 100 days last autumn, signing agents to cover 70 countries within that period. The idea itself was conceived at last year’s Kazachok show in Paris by the firm’s CEO Marc Todd and design director, Vicky Dudley, and just a few months after its official launch two key partners were on board: Commonwealth Toy and Gift (for plush in the US) and PlentyPlay (for construction toys in Europe).
It’s certainly been a whirlwind start for the property – which is primarily aimed at four to ten year olds, with baby apparel and plush now spinning off, plus a growing secondary market in the tween girls sector – and Lavish is looking to build momentum even further.
“We are about to sign apparel, children’s books, stationery and calendars,” MD Vanessa Champion tells Licensing.biz. “We have agents across 70 countries [including the US, South America, UK, Europe, UAE, Far East, Australia and Nordic territories], which means there is potential distribution, cross promotion and support for licensees who come on board with us, and categories are still open in certain territories.
“I would like to see stationery and apparel here in the UK. The UK market is a weird one, however, most retailers only want TV brands, which is a shame as they are missing out on some new and fresh products. The consumer research we’ve done shows this would be popular and we could create some cracking POS and marketing support. In other territories, each market is different, so I’ve been really pleased with what our European agents in particular have worked to achieve. The gifting and collectible market is a no brainer for Luv Me Buddies in most territories, so we are open to discussion to any company wanting to work creatively with us.”
Lavish is currently in the process of presenting the brand to retailers, together with its licensees. “We understand how the market is and are open minded with regards to how we work with them,” says Champion. “DTR is a possibility, and trying to think ‘out of the box’ we have sourced our own products as well which might assist distributors, retailers and help support our UK licensees in particular. We are very progressive in terms of how we can help our partners take product to market.”
Champion is very proud of the fact that Lavish Rights is challenging the mantra that in order for a brand to be a merchandising hit, it needs to be on TV. “I think that we have proven that with drive, vision and best of class agents, a new brand can be launched into market within a short period of time when you’re focused and have a really strong style guide with product inspiration.”
Growth for Luv Me Buddies, says Champion, will come from moving further into the tween sector. By the end of 2011, she wants to have signed ten licensees in each territory – “it looks like we’ll easily achieve that in Europe and the US.” A set of collectible characters for boys – Luv Me Baddies – will also launch this year.
“When we launched the brand in 2010 we said that 2011 would be the year the world turns heart-shaped, so in five years time we want not just toys and playgrounds, but kitchens, bedrooms, stationery cupboards, playrooms and wardrobes to have turned heart-shaped. Plus, we hope that Lavish Rights will be one of the most progressive licensing companies to emerge from the UK for quite a while,” Champion concludes.