We take a closer look at the food and drink specialist, talking Tango, popcorn and top licensed characters.

Sweet Connexion

Sweet Connexion was established in April 2012 by Carl Richardson.

Richardson’s first experiences with licensing were as a licensee back in the late 1990s as marketing director of Mr Lucky Bags, a company that had reinvented kids surprise bags. He established a strong platform of licences from a wide variety of licensors.

“Before GPS there isn’t a part of London I haven’t been lost in," Richardson begins. "When I eventually found out where I was going, I remember getting a real buzz out of licensing; it really interested me, the industry was exciting and although lots has changed the buzz and excitement remains.

Richardson stayed with the company until 2010, before leaving to join Kinnerton Confectionery as director of The Great Character Candy Company, a division within the business dedicated to the development of licensed sugar confectionery products.

He continues: “My main objective was to develop a quality product range that would sell well, create impact and stand the test of time, something I am pleased to say has happened. The surprise and novelty licensed product range remains an important part of Kinnerton’s product portfolio. I still get a kick out of seeing the lines on shelves, there were a few extremely good people at Kinnerton that helped to achieve this.”

In February 2012, Richardson left Kinnerton and decided to start Sweet Connexion in order to offer licensees and licensors the benefit of his experience, knowledge and contacts specialising within the area of food and drink.

“My epiphany came at Spring Fair last year. I arranged to meet a number of people – some new, some I had known for a long time – then it struck me that the companies I was talking to needed help to solve a variety of marketing and sales issues but they didn’t want to employ someone permanent.

"I pitched an interim service based on affordability, flexibility and results, which hit the mark with two companies, one an experienced licensee, the other a fledgling licensee. Sweet Connexion then became a reality.”

From there, he added further clients in the space of one month and Sweet Connexion Ltd began trading in April 2012.

“I am lucky to have found a brilliant set of clients, all as you would expect with different needs and resources. There’s something that they all do have in common and that’s a desire to be the very best they can in their field and I can help them to achieve this.”

Richardson gives us a brief insight into a couple of clients that embody the ethic of brand integrity and success. The first of these is Rose Marketing. Although Rose was not totally new to licensing – it had the Vimto soft drink licence for selected confectionery – it was keen to expand its licensed products and raise awareness and profile within the industry.

Sweet Connexion was appointed in April 2012 to do this, to work closely with the MD on strategic planning and also add certain sales accounts to the business.

“Rose is a dynamic business with much strength, what impresses me is their ability to react quickly, source and develop innovative products that always enhance the brand," says Richardson. “There’s a fire in the belly at Rose, a real passion for product development and sales, the products are first class and sales are outstanding. It was pleasing to see Rose as finalists for the Licensing Awards in their category this year for their fantastic Tango range. Also pleasing to see them win a consumer award for Vimto product. There’s a lot more to come and I am proud to be a part of their continued success.”

In addition to this, Richardson is also on board with a new business (established in 2011), which boasts strong credentials and a real opportunity to open up significant business for an innovative range of licensed character pop corn and healthier eating snacks called Savoury & Sweet.

The firm has taken licences from both Nickelodeon (Spongebob Squarepants) and Fox (The Simpsons) to apply to its popcorn products in the case of Spongebob and its nuts and snacks in the case of The Simpsons.

“What impresses me about these products is their innovation and quality together with their great taste and visual appeal. There’s a gap in the market for licensed popcorn, Savoury & Sweet have acted on this and look set to capitalise on all their hard work to ensure the product is of the highest quality.

"Sweet Connexion is helping drive the products into market and in the space of just a few weeks the results are encouraging," Richardson concludes.

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