Licensing.biz Women of the Year: Part two

The list highlights the work of women working at licensor and licensee level, as well as in retail, media, marketing, PR and other roles which bring them into contact with the licensing industry.
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This week, Licensing.biz is unveiling our list of the top 100 women in the UK licensing industry.

Produced in association with Kilogrammedia, the list recognises women from all areas of the business, as nominated by our readers.

The list highlights the work of women working at licensor and licensee level, as well as in retail, media, marketing, PR and other roles which bring them into contact with the licensing industry.

We are unveiling 20 women in alphabetical order each day this week.

Part two of the list can be found below:


Alison Downie,
Senior Licensing & Brand Development Manager, Golden Bear

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At time of writing, Downie held the role of senior licensing and brand development manager at Golden Bear. She was described as “someone to aspire to and provides me with continued support in all areas of my role”. Downie not only works tirelessly on the licensing side – working with properties such as In the Night Garden, Hey Duggee, Twirlywoos and CBeebies among others – she can also be seen at all trade fairs, setting up and breaking down. She also oversees Golden Bear’s development in Hong Kong, making the trip four times a year.

Jo Edwards,
Head of Licensing & Brand Development, Random House Enterprises

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Edwards has over 15 years experience in the consumer products, home entertainment and media industries. She joined Random House Enterprises in 2012, with the new unit of the business looking at how content and IP can be used across platforms including TV, licensing and merchandising, gaming and live events. Prior to this, Edwards spent 11 years at Discovery, helping to develop the firm’s international consumer products business across brand, character and art-led licences and through multiple product categories – leading international business development in sectors including toys, retail, clothing, electronics, live shows and exhibitions.


Jane Evans,
Joint MD, JELC

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Evans started Beanstalk Europe from scratch in her living room and grew it to a staff of over 40 people, with clients such as Coca Cola, Jack Daniels, Harley Davidson and the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2003, she started Jane Evans Licensing and then seven years later, in 2010, she joined forces with Janet Woodward to form JELC. The firm currently works with a diverse selection of clients including The National Gallery, Silentnight, Loose Leashes and Hinchcliffe & Barber. Expansion into Russia followed with the formation of Brand Extensions Russia in 2012.

Jenny Fraser,
Buyer – Ladies Fashion & Licensing Apparel, Primark

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As Primark has grown its presence on the High Street, its importance to the licensing industry and dedication to licensed products has also increased. Fraser is responsible for buying ladies fashion tees and ladies licensed apparel, a role she has held since May 2013. She originally joined the retailer in 2009 as a trainee buyer, having previously worked at Jane Norman as a design assistant.

Kate French,
Buyer – Kidswear, Home Retail Group

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French’s role as kidswear buyer sees her identifying new areas of opportunity, product development and sourcing for kids character clothing and accessories. This includes building and developing relationships with licensors, as well as developing department strategy, product selection and presentation of range to the directors. Prior to this, French spent over five years as a junior buyer at Marks and Spencer, focusing on lingerie, nightwear and swimwear.

Louise French,
AVP, Business Development & Marketing, Beanstalk

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French oversees Beanstalk’s international business development and marketing departments, working out of the agency’s London office. She is responsible for growing the roster of clients in Europe and Asia, and for driving PR and marketing initiatives for Beanstalk’s international business. Since joining Beanstalk in 2002, French has held a number of senior positions within the agency’s client management and new business functions. She was previously in charge of the UK’s brand management team. French continues to play an integral role in developing licensing strategies for Beanstalk’s roster of new and existing clients, and leads international projects on behalf of Blueprint – Powered by Beanstalk, the company’s specialist consulting division.

Valerie Fry,
Director of Sales, Coolabi

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Fry has an impressive track record in licensing major international brands and over 23 years experience in the industry. She joined the Coolabi team two years ago and is responsible for the global licensing development of a portfolio of properties ranging from comedy to action adventure such as Clangers, Beast Quest, Poppy Cat, Purple Ronnie, Scream Street, Domo and Bagpuss. Prior to this, Fry was commercial director at Chapman Entertainment for six years, working on properties including Fifi and The Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car. She has also held roles at Celador and Gullane Entertainment. Fry was described as ‘a blend of a sharp business person and collaborative partner’ by her nominator.

Jane Garner,
MD, Kilogrammedia

As direction of Kilogrammedia, the specialist PR and marketing agency dedicated to meeting the communication needs of everyone involved in the licensing world, Garner has carved out a unique and valuable role in the industry. Building on her previous experience in journalism and marketing, she has developed a client list that since 2001 has included many major names. Today it is led by Italian entertainment giant Rainbow, international playing card company Cartamundi and the British Museum, as well as licensing specialists Bulldog, Caroline Mickler and Rocket Licensing.

Bethan Garton,
Head of Licensing, Acamar Films

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Garton heads up all licensing, merchandising and product development for Acamar Films and its flagship property, Bing. Since premiering on CBeebies, the brand has accumulated over 36 million downloads on iPlayer, and under Garton’s leadership has been racking up impressive figures at retail – with the DVD still selling two to three thousand units per week, long after its initial launch. Garton has spearheaded a number of major partnerships for the brand including a master toy deal with Fisher-Price, as well as securing a host of licensees in other key categories. She has been working in tandem with the Acamar team to establish Bing as one of the leading pre-school brands today.

Serena Gosling,
Director of Retail & Licensing, City Football Group

Gosling is currently the director of retail and licensing for City Football Group and is responsible for the Manchester City FC, New York City FC and Melbourne City FC brands. Prior to working for CFG, she worked for London 2012 and managed a large portion of the licensing activations through working with Adidas and a variety of other companies. Gosling’s career has always had a very strong sport focus with time also spent working on numerous sporting events. She is a keen sports person and has played pivotal roles in building strong licensing programmes around sporting teams, brands and events.

Libby Grant,
Director, We Are Bloom

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Popular Grant established boutique agency Bloom in March 2014, having enjoyed some well-earned time off travelling after co-founding Fluid World in August 2008. With over 12 years of experience in building and commercialising brands, Grant began her career at The Jim Henson Company as licensing and marketing coordinator. Stints at Mean Fiddler Music, Bacardi and The Ministry of Sound followed, before she joined The Walt Disney Company as category manager for health and beauty in 2007.

Alison Graver,
Brand Development Director, BB Designs

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Graver joined BB Designs in October 2012 and sets licensing strategy, sourcing and acquisition of brand rights, product strategy, sales development and delivery to major retailers in the UK and US. Prior to this, she was product development and licensing director at Corsair Toiletries, while she also enjoyed four years as creative director at Euromark International.

Zara Grindrod,
Sales Director, Rainbow Designs

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Grindrod has been in the toy industry for almost two decades. Her extensive retail knowledge and experience has been fundamental in the development of the sales teams and growth of the major national key accounts across the business. She has always worked with licensed soft toys and for small growing businesses. Her foray into the toy industry was as a receptionist at Giftware International where she worked her way up to become the company's operations director. Her journey means she understands the process from the bottom up, which give makes it very easy for Grindrod to understand it from buyers’ and retailers’ perspective. She spent six years at Gosh, before joining Rainbow Designs where she has been for the last eight years.

Kirsty Guthrie,
MD, KJG

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“If there are any more talented ladies working in licensing today, they cannot match Kirsty’s low golf handicap nor engaging Scottish accent nor affection for her black Labradors … so she wins!” said her nominator. Guthrie established KJG in 2005, having previously held roles with Universal Studios, CPLG and Link Licensing (which became Entertainment Rights). She is currently representing Rubik’s Cube in Europe and Australia, Koch Media worldwide, Cavania Cards, the horse racing photographer Chris Bourchier and horse painter Jacquie Jones.

Angela Hall,
Managing Director, H&A

Hall is the managing director of H&A, the UK’s number one supplier of children’s licensed washing and bathing products. She started the business over 25 years ago and has been involved in the licensing industry since then. The first licence she signed was Mr Blobby and the products flew off the shelves. She has a wealth of knowledge in both licensing and retail and is deserving of a place in the Top 100 women in the UK licensing industry.

Maggy Harris,
VP International, UK Sales and Children’s Publishing, ITV Studios Global Entertainment

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Described as a “doyen in the industry” by her nominator, Harris has a wealth of experience and has worked across many brands, characters and art properties. Before taking on her current role in March 2014, she was head of brand marketing, consumer products at ITVS GE, responsible for managing wholly owned rights such as Thunderbirds and third party representation rights such as Cut the Rope, Matt Hatter, Digimon, Village People, Playmobil and Super 4. Prior to ITVS GE, Harris managed and ran independent licensing and brand management agency Ignition for six years. She also spent four years at Hallmark Cards as licensing manager and 11 years at DRi Licensing as licensing director.

Trudi Hayward,
SVP Global Head of Merchandise, ITV Studios Global Entertainment

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Hayward has over 21 years experience in the licensing industry, and has worked on some of the most successful licensed brands in the UK and worldwide. She had a pivotal role in launching Dora the Explorer in the UK during her time at Nickleodeon, with the property winning Pre-School Property of the Year in 2008. In 2011, Hayward moved to ITV where she has built the merchandising and licensing department up from scratch, managing ITV-owned properties – such as Thunderbirds – as well as sourcing and developing third party properties. “Her knowledge and understanding of the business is huge, bringing enthusiasm, common sense, integrity and great commercial skills across brand strategies, marketing, broadcast, creative, sales and retail,” offered one colleague.

Sissel Henno,
Director Licensing Sales, Lucas & LEGO EMEA, The Walt Disney Company

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Henno has over 14 years experience in the business, having worked across all areas of products and promotions, as well as experience in selling TV and home entertainment rights. She began her current role in February and is in charge of driving the licensing programme for Star Wars across EMEA, with particular focus on pan-Euro toys, as well as the LEGO partnership across the Disney portfolio. Prior to this, she spent four years as head of brand licensing Europe at SEGA, and has also enjoyed spells at 4Kids Entertainment, Classic Media and Storm Watches.



Anna Hewitt,

Head of Licensing, Walker Books UK

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Friendly, efficient, creative and passionate about the brands she works on, Hewitt has many years’ experience in developing and commercialising brands through her in-depth knowledge of TV, licensing, publishing and the retail sector, both in the UK and internationally. At Walker, she is responsible for the innovative and creative licensing strategies for Walker brands and books within its catalogue. She led the team behind developing the picture book, Guess How Much I Love You, into a brand – the book celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, with a marketing and PR campaign across both publishing and licensing giving a huge boost to brand awareness. Prior to joining Walker Books, Hewitt worked at Coolabi – where she launched the licensing programme for Poppy Cat – and at BBC Worldwide managing the international licensing strategy for brands including Planet Earth, Doctor Who, Top Gear, In the Night Garden and Charlie & Lola.

Caroline High,
Senior Licensing Manager UK Hardlines, FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment

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High has been busy working on live events in the past year and helped pull together the Tree Fu Tom live show with Premier Productions. She has also been hard at work on Danger Mouse, promoting both the classic and new series, and has done deals with Paul Lamond and Wow Stuff for the classic series, with many more in the pipeline. Wow Stuff has also been signed up for the popular game show QI. High also negotiated the Kate & Mim-Mim special with Immediate Media. She also manages retailer relationships and toy partners for the UK and is an active member of the Light Fund.

Head to Licensing.biz tomorrow for part three of our list of the top women in the UK licensing industry, in association with Kilogrammedia.

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