In relation to its company history, Spearmark is fairly new to licensing. It boasts a history of over 100 years, but the firm’s first licensing deal only came in 1975. And, as with many licensees, its foray into the world of children's characters was in partnership with Disney.
Alex Bloom, commercial director, comments: “Disney remains our longest standing licensor whose strong evergreen brands, in particular Princess and Cars, continue to perform outstandingly year on year for us."
The firm has taken a varied route since its conception in 1908. Beginning life as a general importer from France, the company was taken over by its present owners in 1958 and began to turn its attention to board games and by 1985, had moved into children’s licensed housewares.
A few years on from this, and Spearmark began to produce children’s licensed lighting products. Bloom explains: “With these two categories proving such a success, the decision was made to sell the games division and brand name House Martin to Waddingtons and focus on growing both the housewares and lighting divisions."
Some 24 years later and the firm now has a strong pan-European distribution network grown over the years which ensures its products are available throughout the UK and Europe.
More recently, Spearmark’s strategy to overcome the economic downturn was to develop a range of ‘value’ products, which will be spread over many of its best-selling properties. This strategy, along with the signing of the who’s who in kids’ licences has ensured the firm has remained buoyant over the last year.
Bloom explains the thinking behind this plan: “This strategy ensures consumers, ever watchful of their spending, are given an affordable alternative to our more premium products.
“A number of key new additions have been made Spearmark’s sales team too, which further strengthens the presence we have in both the UK and Europe.”
The brands in Spearmark’s current portfolio cover a wide base including evergreen and up and coming franchises. To date, Ben 10, Peppa Pig and Star Wars have all performed well in both categories and their strong fan base makes them three of the firm’s best-sellers.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2009 and 2010, the firm has a number of ‘brands to watch’ joining the stable. Bloom explains: “We expect Toy Story to be a huge success, due to the strong appeal it has among adults who watched it first time around, its relevance among today’s kids and the first class marketing support that Disney has planned. And, in preparation we have developed two new ranges for our llghting and housewares divisions which include some fantastic new innovative products.”
He continues: “Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is one of Spearmark’s newest acquisitions. This brand new pre-school property is from the same producers as the ever popular Peppa Pig; which has performed outstandingly for us so, it’s understandable as to why we’re so excited about signing it; looks set to be just as phenomenal.”
Bloom concludes: “Looking ahead, we are always on the lookout for brands that have the potential to stand out and capture the attention of our target audience. In terms of specifics, we wouldn’t want to compromise any negotiations.”
In response to the current economic environment, Spearmark plans for 2010 also include a strong channel strategy that will provide innovation and value for money’ product solutions for all sales channels from discount to mass market and premium.
The firm also plans to focus its attention on expanding its presence in Europe with the same strategic approach.