MHS Licensing

Despite a challenging economy, MHS Licensing enjoyed a successful 2010 and has even more properties on board, which it will be presenting over the next year.
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Perhaps a rather sensible approach has helped MHL to weather the financial storm. Marty Segelbaumn, president, explains: "Our licensees worked hard to maintain their businesses in a difficult economy and our consulting practice remained strong.

"The art properties we represent are steady, evergreen type properties rather than exotic looks that go in and out of style."

The company, founded by Segelbaum in 1995, was in fact set up as a consulting firm specialising in acquiring sports properties for companies. Soon after, MHS started to represent art brands, beginning with the Hautman Brothers, which is now a $65million property.

The first licensing agreement was for the Hautman Brothers, with a quirky company called Chaney Instrument, which manufactures outdoor thermometers. The firm took on the world-renowned wildlife artists, which was a perfect fit and is still an active company today.

A Hautman Brothers deal is also what Segelbaum looks on as MHS's most successful to date - a deal with Cranston Print Works, which produces over-the-counter fabric.

Segelbaum tells Licensing.biz: "Though it isn't the biggest revenue producer, it is still significant volume and the impressive thing is the volume has stayed steady even in the light of a tough economy and the shrinking of the space at retail devoted to this category.

"It speaks to the power and appeal of the Hautman Borthers art and the commitment Cranston has to the brand."

However, MHS is no longer all about art. In 2001, John Haesler joined, having spent 13 years at Target Stores and the consultation sector of the business was revitalised to include the acquisition of entertainment, corporate and celebrity brands for manufacturing clients. Following this, the company evolved to offer more services including retail business development for manufacturers.

Having said that, the company has taken of five new art brands in the last few month - Tim Nyberg, Louise Carey, Patrick Reid O'Brien, Christine Adolph and Vitaly Geyman.

Segelbaum continues about his plans: "The retailers and therefore the manufacturers are always looking for something new and we are in an excellent position to provide them with newness.

"We are also getting traction in new categories such as mobile phone content and the pet category and we plan to pursue those aggressively."

While the company is looking to move into new sectors, Segelbaum also understands the importance of long-standing, traditional sector licensees. When asked about the firm's 'dream licensee', he offers:

"Any licensee in a substantial category such as tabletop or home textiles who has an everyday programme with a key retailer like Walmart or Target would be a dream licensee.

"While we work with several category leader licensees in tabletop and home textiles, the programmes are usually seasonal or in-and-out in nature. Longer term programmes are easier and more financially productive for everyone in the licensing chain."

It could be that more of these will come on board following MHS's next marketing drive ahead of the Licensing International show.

Segelbaum concludes: "The objective of our marketing strategy is to get our art in as many appropriate hands as possible for their consideration.

"Towards that end, we issue a direct mail piece twice per year in advance of our key shows (Surtex Show, Licensing International Expo),deliver a monthly email newsletter to a targeted audience and more recently, are utilising social media tools to get the message out. We also exhibit or attend 16 trade shows per year for various categories of merchandise."

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