As part of our focus on the licensed apparel and accessories sector, Licensing.biz takes a look at just some of the licensees currently working in the market. From big, worldwide operations through to smaller, more local companies, we run through who they are and which properties they're highlighting for 2010...
Men's accessory company Mag Mouch Sophos has licences including Batman, Superman, The Simpsons, Mr Men, The Beatles, Dr Who, Weenicons, Monopoly and Hammer House of Horror.
Products include hankies, cufflinks, wallets and belts (which are made to order).
Aykroyd & Sons
0161 929 1122
The family run business was first formed in 1912 in Manchester by John Henry Aykroyd, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it began to specialise in nightwear. In the 1980s the company started to design in-house, a move which had a significant impact on the transition into character clothing. By the middle of the decade, the firm was producing mainly children’s nightwear.
Now run by twins David and Nigel Aykroyd, the great-grandsons of the founder, Aykroyd & Sons works with a number of high profile licensors including Disney, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, BBC, Hit and Nickelodeon among others.
Over the last year or so, the general trend for the firm has been to stick with tried and trusted properties, with classics such as Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princess, Thomas, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Fifi, Spongebob Squarepants and The Simpsons continuing to perform well.
For younger children, In The Night Garden and Postman Pat are strong, while for older boys, it’s Ben 10 and The Clone Wars. Hannah Montana and iCarly are doing well in the older girls area, while Aykroyds is also enjoying a surge in retro characters such as Looney Tunes, classic Disney characters and Snoopy.
In terms of movies, the firm will be rolling out product for Toy Story 3, Shrek 4 and The Last Air Bender in 2010, while it is also looking to make the most out of the World Cup this summer. Newer properties on its books include Guess with Jess, Chuggington, 3rd & Bird, Tinga Tinga Tales and ZingZillas.
Bacup Shoe Company
Founded in 1928, Bacup sells five million units of footwear each year, with top customers including M&S, Next, George, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Brantano and Mothercare. More than half of its business is in licensed footwear.
Current hot licences include Toy Story, Cars, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Little Miss and Mr Men, The Simpsons and Sex and the City, as well as STORM footwear.
The firm recently signed Me To You for roll out in the UK following initial success in M&S.
In addition, Bacup invented Redfoot – the original ‘after party’ shoe which folds in half. It launched a Sex and the City line for Christmas 2009, which sold out immediately, with the main launch set for May 2010, just ahead of the second movie.
020 7371 9900
Blues was established over 30 years ago and, today, is owned by its management and Penta Capital Funds with backing from Allied Irish Bank. It employs over 70 people based in the UK and Hong Kong.
The firm works with a number of licensors on a wide range of properties, producing baby, pre-school, boys, girls and adult apparel. These firms include Sanrio (Hello Kitty), Disney, Cartoon Network (Ben 10), Warner Bros (Superman/Batman), 20th Century Fox (The Simpsons/Garfield), Hasbro (Subbuteo), CPLG (Sesame Street/Snoopy/WWE), Chorion (Mr Men), E1 (Peppa Pig) and Hit Entertainment among others.
The firm has a good relationship with retail, too, working with Asda, Tesco, Bhs, Next, Sainsbury’s, Mothercare, Debenhams, Matalan, Primark, Dunnes and Heatons in the UK and Ireland. Meanwhile, in France and Benelux Blues partners with Sodirep, with offices in Paris, Brussels and Lille.
Brand International Group
Established in 1984, the firm currently specialises in footwear design, sourcing and distribution. Key product areas are indoor footwear, rain boots, summer footwear, canvas and athletic footwear.
A focused strategy has seen sales double since 2007, with further growth anticipated in 2010. Indeed, having built a solid foundation in licensed footwear, the next phase of progression includes planned expansion into new areas. Opportunities in generic footwear, branded footwear, socks, swimwear and European licensing are specific areas currently being investigated.
The firm’s licensed portfolio has grown considerably in recent years. Current hot properties include Ben 10, Waybuloo, Marvel Comics, Family Guy, The X Factor, Doctor Who and Spongebob Squarepants.
The company is also about to reveal two new licences to its line-up: one in the older boys category and one in older girls.
020 8742 5582
Bravado states that is the ‘only’ global 360-degree full service merchandising company, and develops a range of merchandise for a worldwide audience, both in the character and music sectors.
Product is sold on live tours, via selected retail outlets and web-based stores, In addition, Bravado also licences rights to an extensive network of third party licensees around the world.
The firm boasts offices in London, LA, New York, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney. Now under the Universal Music umbrella, Bravado is able to leverage a global sales and distribution network from the record company, as well as using its marketing force.
Top character licences for Bravado last year included Family Guy, Ghostbusters, Sesame Street, Mr Men, Jack Daniel’s, Transformers, South Park, Thundercats, Harley Davidson and Futurama. Meanwhile, on the music side, Michael Jackson – for who Bravado is the global merchandise rights holder – The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, The Doors, The Ramones, Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses, Motorhead, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix were the top performers.
Recent new signings welcomed to the portfolio are Street Fighter, Rubik’s Cube, Captain Pugwash, Rainbow, Elvis, True Blood, Father Ted, Resident Evil and Fame The Movie. The firm has also highlighted Iron Man 2, Yo Gabba Gabba, PlayStation and Peanuts has hot tips for 2010.
0870 794 2323
Chunk is a London-based street wear label which was launched in 2001 with a range of t-shirts featuring Haynes car illustrations. The firm offers six product programmes a year, which are made up of four in season collections and two injection ranges.
As well as producing Chunk original designs, the firm also works with a number of licences including Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Hanna Barbera, Danger Mouse and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among others. Indeed, the firm claims that it was the first fashion apparel brand to take on the Star Wars licence four years ago.
Cohen & Wilks
0113 245 0804
Cohen & Wilks was notably founded by a Jewish refugee from Tzarist Russia – PM Quas-Cohen – who, at the end of the 19th century, had settled in Manchester. Originally specialising in men’s tailored product, casual product and children’s wear began to form the mainstay of the business through the 1980s and 1990s. Today the firm is one of the main names in the character licensed apparel market, supplying a wide range of retailers including George at Asda, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Next, Tesco, Mothercare, Bhs, Debenhams, John Lewis and New Look among others. Major licences include Mr Men & Little Miss, Puffa, In The Night Garden, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Bob the Builder and Disney. Cohen & Wilks has also been recognised with nominations at The Licensing Awards for two years running. Last year, the firm’s Myleene Klass Baby range for Mothercare was nominated in the Best Licensed Brand Range – Soft Goods category, while 2008 saw it selected in the Best Licensed Children’s Apparel or Accessories Range category for its Dora the Explorer Fruit collection.
0161 273 5213
Formed in the 1960s as a fabric knitting operation, Cooneen transferred its skills and production to children’s wear in the early 1970s.
Over the last six years, the firm has developed a successful licensed nightwear and underwear business that now supplies the High Street, grocers, mail order and discount sectors. Indeed it has become one of the largest firms in its field in the UK, with group turnover in excess of £40 million.
Current hot licences include all brands from Disney, plus Peppa Pig, WWE, Waybuloo, Timmy Time and Charlie & Lola. It has also recently secured deals for Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, The Wot Wots, Scooby-Doo, Big & Small and Moxie Girlz.
For the next six months, Cooneen will be focusing on Toy Story 3, which is the only major movie it has decided to back this year. Orders have been taken across nearly all its customers. It is also confident of seeing further success with Disney Princess, as well as Peppa Pig, Waybuloo and Timmy Time.
0116 276 2929
Fashion-UK MD Gurdev Mattu has said that the next six months are about going back to basics for the firm; working harder with its evergreens and re-creating them to fit in with current High Street trends. Recent deals include Fireman Sam and Looney Tunes, while Mattu highlights Betty Boop, Snoopy, Disney and Mr Men as ones to watch in 2010.
The firm – which produces apparel for girls, boys, women and men, plus swimwear and nightwear – also boasts such properties as Bakugan, Bad Alice, Care Bears, The Flintstones, iCarly, Rubik’s Cube, The Simpsons, Pink Floyd, AC-DC, 7UP and Run DMC among others in its portfolio.
020 7935 0973
Global Licensing was established in 1996, with the business growing rapidly since then, scooping up the rights to a number of popular cartoon and TV licences.
Brands in its portfolio include Warner properties such as Superman, Batman and Tweety, plus the Goonies, Sesame Street, Carry On and Mr Men – with the ambitious firm stating that it is always on the hunt for new licences.
It designs and manufacturers clothing for the UK High Street, mail order and independent shops for both adults and children.
J Fox Sox
0161 370 0888 (HQ); 01530 510765 (design studio/sales showroom)
J Fox Sox is a design-led company with its head office in Manchester and a design sales office in Leicestershire. Primary products include socks and hosiery, underwear and nightwear for men, ladies, children and babies. The firm also imports novelty gifts including soft toys, slippers and gift boxes/bags. Retailers it has worked with include George, Dunnes, Next, Topshop and Topman, New Look, River Island, Ted Baker and Austin Reed among others.
The firm currently has deals with Warner Bros for various characters, United Media, Marvel, 4Kids, Nickelodeon, Hasbro and PPC among others.
0116 242 8800
Leicester-based Knitmania produces ladies, men’s and children’s apparel. In its HQ it has design studios, showrooms, sampling rooms, cutting facilities, accounts and warehousing, as well as its own production unit.
Also on-site, it has in-house printing with the capability to print over 100,000 pieces per week.
In conjunction with its design and manufacturing offices in LA, Knitmania produces sublimation paper prints. The firm has a back catalogue of over 15,000 prints which it constantly adds to. These are sold worldwide to customers ranging from Topshop, Nike, H&M and Adidas to Miss Sixty and Urban Outfitters.
As well as a number of licences, Knitmania has also recently launched the Disney Couture high-end apparel line for men, women and children worldwide (excluding the US).
0116 264 5860
Misirli UK has been trading in the UK for almost 16 years, with turnover consistently increasing year-on-year to approximately £12 million+ forecast for this year.
The firm is now owned by three partners – Gary and Kim Bown and Ihsan Erturgut, one of the founding family members. The current products of socks, underwear and nightwear are all sourced mainly out of Turkey and China, with a tight rein being kept on procedures through Misirli’s own merchandising and quality offices in both countries.
While licensed product now makes up 70 per cent of the firm’s offering, Misirli also has a thriving own brand business. The company is in the process of adding some strong licences to its portfolio, both new and evergreen properties.
“Peppa Pig is still incredibly strong for us and all involved,” Kim Bown tells Licensing.biz. “It had been a truly fantastic brand to work with, so we are looking forward to following with success on Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. Waybuloo, Sesame Street, Transformers and Dr Who are among some of the other licences that are very successful for us.”
A number of new retail accounts have also been opened in the last 12 months and the firm is looking forward to a positive 2010.
Poetic Licence is the licensing arm of Poetic Gem, an £80m group in the UK with offices around the world and a global business of around $600m a year. Having grown to be one of the largest suppliers of garments in the UK, a joint venture was formed with former Smith & Brooks men, Elliott and Karl Matthews.
The first licence secured was Gogo’s Crazy Bones and thanks to its phenomenal success, in the space of just 18 months the firm has become one of the main apparel licensees to watch.
England and FA branded apparel aimed at the baby to four-year age group has been another big seller, as well as Thomas the Tank Engine, Marvel Super Heroes, England Rugby, the ECB and Shrek. Further success is likely to come from How To Train Your Dragon and Roary the Racing Car. Retro and music licences from Radio Days are also proving popular with the young adult sector.
Key retail accounts include M&S, Tesco, Asda, River Island, Top Man, Burton and ASOS among others.
Following the firm’s UK success, Poetic Gem is now considering developing its licensing business in other parts of the world.
Roy Lowe & Sons
Perhaps as well-known for their lurid suits at trade shows as for their licensed socks, Roy Lowe & Sons was created in September 1996 by Martin and Tim Lowe.
Now ably assisted by Richard Radford, Dean Greasley and Carl Sigona, the firm has established itself as the leading character sock supplier in the UK. Strong performers over the past year have included Ben 10, Peppa Pig, Weenicons and Disney brands, while the boys are confident that The Wot Wots, Barbie, Toy Story 3 and key football clubs (such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and, err, Mansfield Town) will flourish in the coming months.
And, of course, there are those Las Vegas suits to look forward to…
020 8892 0761
Silverknit started life as an underwear manufacturer and throughout its 21-year history has developed into a successful supplier of ladies nightwear and underwear, children’s casualwear and babywear.
Current hot properties include Charlie & Lola for both boys and girls, Smileyworld for nightwear and underwear, as well as evergreens such as Betty Boop, Snoopy, Bob the Builder and Warner brands.
In addition, Silverknit has recently signed Pet Poets Club.
Smith & Brooks
020 8896 8700
Licensed children’s clothing is the core business for Smith & Brooks, which has been established for almost 25 years.
It has an impressive retail distribution list including the likes of Next, M&S, Tesco, TU, George at Asda, Debenhams, Mothercare, Bhs, Sports Direct, Matalan and Dunnes. It also enjoys pan-European distribution in both multiple and individual sectors.
Current licences include Thomas the Tank Engine, Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons, Marvel Heroes, My Little Pony, Scooby-Doo, LazyTown, Nintendo and Transformers. In addition, Smith & Brooks has recently added ZingZillas, Noddy, Angelina Ballerina, PlayStation and Ghostbusters to its portfolio. It is also in the process of finalising deals on a number of new brands in the pre-school and tween sector.
Smith & Brooks was named as Hit Entertainment’s Licensee of the Year in 2009 for its Thomas seasonal collections.
020 8838 2100
Somerbond has been established for 20 years and produces t-shirts, underwear and nightwear among other categories.
Over the past few years, the firm has enjoyed a significant increase in sales helped by such properties as Tiny Idols, Sesame Street, DC Originals, Marvel, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Muppets.
Formed in 1982, TDP has gone from being just two people in one room to having a dedicated workforce of over 80, occupying 55,000 square feet of office/distribution space.
Specialising in toddler and children’s nightwear and underwear, TDP recently expanded into men’s nightwear, underwear and t-shirts. It represents all the major studios and has a vast array of licences in its stable.
It currently supplies Asda, Mothercare, Tesco, Bhs, Matalan, Next, Dunnes and TU Clothing, along with the more niche areas of Game, Gamestation and Play.com.
TDP has highlighted Ben 10 as an outstanding performer within its children’s portfolio, while Haynes Car Manuals has also been exceptional. Moving further into 2010, and the firm is confident of success with its Toy Story 3 lines, plus products for its recent new signings ZingZillas and Tinga Tinga Tales.
Trade Mark Collections
One of the top licensees of children’s bags and umbrellas, Trade Mark Collections was formed in 2000 and has built up a solid portfolio of licences in that time. These include Disney, Thomas, Peppa Pig, Waybuloo, Mr Men, In The Night Garden, Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer among others, with the most recent signing being Moxie Girlz.
Its products range from large wheeled bags down to small purses – with everything in between – with the company counting most major High Street retailers as customers. The firm has enjoyed steady growth in sales over recent years and has particularly high hopes this year for new properties Toy Story 3 and Waybuloo, as well as current favourites like Peppa Pig and Thomas.
020 8213 3168
United Labels AG specialises in licensed comicware products across Europe. It believes it holds a key position between licensors and retailers as its 4,500+ strong product range and its licensing portfolio – which includes such brands as Disney, Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, Peanuts and Sesame Street – makes it an attractive partner to both sides.
As well as apparel and accessories, United Labels also offers gifts and stationery to retail. In addition, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Time Warner and Paramount have a direct share in the sales success of the firm.
Originally established in 1912 as Victoria Manufacturing Company, the firm officially became VMC in 2000. A key player in the licensed kids fashion, dress up and accessories sector, it represents a number of major brands, working with all major retailers.
Its success has been recognised at The Licensing Awards, too. In 2009, VMC received three nominations – two in Best Licensed Dress-up and/or Party Range for Mr Men and Little Miss dress-up (which was, in fact, the eventual winner) and Thomas Tabard dress-up, and one for its Peppa Pig accessories line in Best Licensed Apparel/Accessories range.
Ben 10 and Peppa Pig remain strong for the firm going forward, along with more recently signed properties such as Waybuloo, Spongebob Squarepants, Moxie Girlz and JCB.
William Lamb is a privately owned business which has grown since 1887 to become one of the UK's leading footwear distributors.
Licensed footwear is a key part of its business, across children’s and adult demographics. Key properties include Disney Princess, Barbie, Fifi and the Flowertots, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Batman, Scooby-Doo, Peppa Pig, Star Wars, LazyTown, Chuggington and Guinness to name just a few.