Everyone loves a nice surprise, regardless of age. That sense of anticipation building up like butterflies in your stomach as you try to guess what it is; the explosion of excitement (hopefully) as the secret is revealed.
So when entrepreneur Ian Neville Rolfe discovered people’s fond memories for items such as the Jamboree Bags from the ‘60s and ‘70s, it comes as no surprise that he set about bringing his own, similar product to market. Lucky Bags.
What’s in the bag you ask?
“A wide selection of toys, collectibles and sweets,” Carl Richardson, commercial director for Mr Lucky Bags, tells Licensing.biz.
Mr Lucky Bags was established in 1990 and has grown rapidly ever since. Richardson says by 1995 the Lucky Bag had become “a must stock line with many leading retailers”.
In the late ‘90s the business took a significant step into character licensing through the purchase of the Cartoon Network licence, which enabled it to increase the price points and product quality of the bags.
“The majority of our products under licence contain fully branded items designed to appeal to kids from three to seven years. There is sense of anticipation as to what you are going to find inside the bag,” Richardson continues.
“The strength of the brand allied to our quality and variety of content and packaging are the essential ingredients for our success.”
Robert Cawley took the helm in 2000, after buying Rolfe out, and continues to develop the business’ primary offering of surprise products for the children’s confectionery market as well as growing the company.
Following a number of acquisitions, Mr Lucky Bags is just one of seven companies which are, today, a part of the The MLB Group. The others of which are: Mr Gifts, Toontastic Publishing, Toontastic Leisure, Teepee Creative and two manufacturing sites – Stockleys Sweets and Dovedale Confectionery.
“As with any major change, initially there were teething problems [after the buy out] in working as a group, however, as time has elapsed, there is a much more coherent strategy and as the businesses are becoming more successful, further niche opportunities are being developed,” Richardson says.
The firm says it’s currently enjoying a healthy presence among grocery and High Street outlets plus exclusive distribution agreements in France and Germany. Sales from the party and leisure sectors are also improving year-on-year.
“The branded bags continue to perform very well. We have also seen a significant increase in the amount of own label products we make, with customers drawn from the leisure and promotional sectors.
“We used to have a saying here a few years back which was, “when in doubt pack a Rugrat Bag.” The popularity of this product and licence for us was staggering. Of course, as time moves on the brands change, however, this principle applies equally to Barbie, the Simpsons, Marvel and Scooby Doo these days; these brands are central to our success,” Richardson re-iterates.
“We think that the wide appeal of these brands which are all firmly established and with proven longevity, couple with our investment in the quality and variety of content, maintains our significant lead in the market.”
And as with many sectors in the licensing industry the cinema blockbusters appear to be the magic behind the firm’s success, with the Monsters, Inc licence from Disney being the most financially successful project to date.
However, Richardson maintains that while the Lucky Bag is a concept that works well in licensing, not all brands fit, so choices have to be made carefully.
“Transformers was huge for us last year and this year, we have experienced great success in Woolworths with Indiana Jones. We just went on sale with our Kung Fu Panda Lucky Bag and sales so far are good. We follow up with Batman: The Dark Night, ending in Madagascar 2: The Crate Escape in December, so some really big hitting movies. And then there’s the hugely anticipated Ben 10 Lucky Bags, which will be on shelves from next week.”