Since its conception, the firm has increased its turnover to just over £10 million from just under £2 million.
The impressive growth of the business is explained by commercial director, Kim Bown (née North) as a result of “sheer determination and of course, excellent management focus".
The firm as a whole was set up approximately 50 years ago and in its original format was a Turkish family business based in Istanbul producing socks, underwear and nightwear for the adults and kids market both locally and latterly in the UK.
Shortly after the UK office was set up in the Midlands in 1994 by three owner/partners, Gary Bown, Kim Bown and Ihsan Erturgut, it started supplying Woolworths with Ladybird branded underwear.
Since then, the firm has gone from strength to strength and now supplies blue chip High Street retailers with own brand and licensed character underwear, nightwear and hosiery for kids and adults.
Kim Bown explains: “We pride ourselves on being a very positive, pro-active, flexible, design-led business with a great but compact team in the UK with additional merchandising/quality offices in both Turkey and China where we source most of our product from.”
The firm’s first character licence was Barbie and licensed goods now make up 65 per cent of the portfolio. To date the most successful licences for the company have been Peppa Pig and Bratz.
Bown says: “They both offered something different at the time they came to market and we were fortunate that we worked with both brands right from the beginning so built a strong affinity with them and a close understanding of what they were standing for.”
In order for a brand to be successful as a licensed property, Misirli believes a solid licensing and promotional programme covering all the majors including TV, toys, publishing, etc, is essential.
Bown goes on to explain the elements necessary for a property to make it big: “One that has definite plans for creating a new evergreen and that embraces the needs of its licensees and ultimately retailers and consumers and doesn’t fight against them.”
Woolworths formed a large portion of Misirli’s business from the beginning of its UK existence, but it has thus far managed to ride and overcome this and other closures.
Bown explains how the firm has overcome the retail giant’s closure: “Close communication with senior Woolworths personnel over many months on the lead up to their unfortunate demise and a clear mutual agreement with them to continue to supply within a set criteria to limit any potential losses to a level we felt our business could cope with – which thankfully we achieved.”
Aside from the growing number of retailers going into administration, firms have recently been faced with other industry pressures, like the difficulties in financial impacts of exchange rates. Despite this, Misirli has managed to come through the past 12 months relatively unscathed. Bown comments: “Strangely, the last year has been better than expected – could have been better but it could have been a lot worse too."
In order to maintain this happy position, the firm has strong plans in place for the following year. Bown says: “We are not taking on any loss making business and are controlling our overhead costs tightly. We plan to become even more pro-active than before and trust our customers will see the value we offer as a total flexible business. This will enable us to grow the company again as we come out the other end of this very difficult climate.”
Added to this, the company is in the process of adding some strong licences to its stable, with both new and evergreen properties keeping the range fresh and appealing. Meanwhile, it is looking to use its experience so far to break into new licensing sectors.
Bown gives us the lowdown: “We are very excited about the future for Waybuloo. Barbie is also an exciting brand to be working with again and we are looking at complimentary product areas to our current nightwear, underwear and sock divisions and have signed our first accessories licence with Sesame Street to pursue this avenue.”