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Licensing chatter: The Roald Dahl Story Company’s Rebecca French

What makes 2019 a big year for the Roald Dahl Story Company?

Our licensing strategy aims to extend the world of Roald Dahl beyond the book and bring his stories to life with product inspired by core titles in ways that will delight fans young and old.

We’ve continued to build on our Hero Year strategy with our ‘Year of Matilda’ – a year-long programme of activity focused around Roald Dahl’s brave bookworm, from our partnership with World Book Day through to our Roald Dahl Day celebrations on September 13.

This year, Matilda has been voted as an icon of modern-day bravery and brought new publishing to the market, alongside a raft of top-drawer partnerships, promotions and experiences.

For 2020 we plan to expand our focus, introducing two new titles with Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches joining Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, James and The Giant Peach, and The Enormous Crocodile in our existing licensing portfolio.

Illustrations from Quentin Blake are also integral to our Classic Licensing Program and BLE is a key moment to share our latest art direction with all those potential new partners.

What current partnerships do you guys have in the toy space?

Toys is definitely a growing category for us. We launched Roald Dahl Monopoly last year and our Roald Dahl Top Trumps continue to be a great success. We’ve also been working with Green Board Games on the Brainbox lines, and Paul Lamond who has developed a range of puzzles across all of our core titles.

The demand for these puzzles and games extends far outside of the UK and we also work with Aquarius in US, newly signed MGM in Australia and Thos Holdsworth in New Zealand.

In the pre-school category we have a beautiful collection of plush characters from Rainbow Designs. We also can’t not mention our enormously successful dress up lines from Smiffys, which continues to grow year on year.

What are you guys bringing to the toy space through your IP this year and beyond? What can we all be excited about?

2019 has already been a fantastic year with a number of new product launches from our valued partners.

Following the success of Roald Dahl Top Trumps and Roald Dahl Monopoly, Winning Moves has launched a second Top Trumps set and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cluedo will arrive in stores in time for Christmas.

Paul Lamond has also launched two new educational games, and The Green Board Game Company introduced a new board game concept to much fanfare at Toy Fair earlier this year.

Finally, in support of new pre-school books, Rainbow has launched a brilliant Enormous Crocodile puppet.

How have you seen the licensing space evolve over the last few years and how are you adapting to these changes?

I think the real buzzword of the moment is ‘sustainability’, with an increasing number of licensors placing a growing emphasis on the topic in their licensing strategy.

This year has seen some amazing brand partnerships at retail and consumer demand for ethically sourced and recyclable product is only set to grow. Sustainability and ethical sourcing are both very much considerations in our strategy as we move forward.

What’s next for the Roald Dahl Story Company in the licensing space?

We are looking forward to further developing our licensed portfolio across all categories. For our Classic Licensing Programme, 2020 will see the launch of an exciting new partnership in the kids clothing category – plus more whizz-popping products in homewares, gifting and in the health & beauty space.

Looking further ahead, the next few years will see us continue to evolve our multi-title classic programme.

We are also beginning the planning for a new Roald Dahl Universe, as we head towards a brand-new slate of story adaptations in partnership with the streaming giant, Netflix.

This new animation programme will bring with it a mass market licensing opportunity and see our licensing program hit a new scale.

On top of this, we also have a number of new movies, stage shows, partnerships, and immersive experiences in the pipeline.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent some six years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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