PRE-SCHOOL MONTH: Rainbow Designs

We take a look at the character gift, toy and nursery specialist.
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“Licensed characters form the foundations of Rainbow,” comments Anthony Temple, MD of Rainbow Designs.

“They have always been its lifeblood and our character portfolio past and present reads like a who’s who from classic children’s literature.



“This is what has always set Rainbow apart and will continue to place us in a strong and secure position in the future.”

Rainbow’s strong licensed portfolio is made up largely of pre-school brands. What’s more, the majority of the branded merchandise on offer is based on literary characters, which is the combination that Temple thinks provides a winning formula for the business.

He explains: “The most common thread with all our pre-school properties, and the secret to their success, is that they began life on the pages of children’s literature.

“For example Miffy, Spot, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Elmer, Guess How Much I Love You, Stripy Horse and The World of Roald Dahl… all of these have the support of publishing and need no introduction, making Rainbow’s job of translating them onto licensed product much more effective.

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And the formula seems to be working. Despite a challenging market over the last year, Rainbow is still trading up year-on-year, due to new products coming through investment and transition of the business into new areas.

Founded in 1971, Rainbow was bought out in November 2005, when the new management spotted an opportunity to change the business.

Temple offers: “Since that time, we have transformed and transitioned the business by embarking on a strategy of change, which includes the specific plan of investment into original product development, sales and new licences.”

He continues: “Licensed character soft toys have always been Rainbow’s mainstay with Padintron Bear, Beatrix Potter and Miffy on board from the very early days. Rainbow soon became one of the first companies to develop characters into commercial products as it understood and recognised the potential of characters on the pages of a children’s story book.”

Rainbow’s business has now begun to expand into new sectors, outside plush, as Temple tells Licensing.biz: “Rainbow’s business is fundamentally built on plush, but our licensed ranges now include stationery, key rings, phone charms and specific items that suit that licence such as the Twin Bell Alarm Clock and the 8cm vinyl collectable characters in the Snoopy It’s a Comical World collection.”

The last five years have also seen the expansion of the existing classic character licences into the pre-school sector with the introduction of ranges like My First Paddington, Miffy Little Star and Beatrix Potter Once Upon A Time. The company has also bought new licences on board, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Snoopy and Wallace and Gromit.

Temple also tells Licensing.biz of new plans for the future and the continued expansion of the company: “In the traditional toy sector, this will include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Paddington Bear and Beatrix Potter and as part of pre-school developments, we will be launching Beatrix Potter wooden toys, which are essentially in development, in early 2011.”

He adds: “Going forward, we have just acquired two major pre-school and classic character licences that we will be announcing very shortly.”

So it seems there is plenty more to come in the world of pre-school licensing from the forward thinking team at Rainbow Designs and we can look forward to the successful formula continuing to build.

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