The credit crunch has made brands look at the route to market and realize that licensing is OK, if they get the right contract and the right partner. So we're seeing more brands come to licensing for the first time. And, after a good stock clearout, licensees in categories such as eyewear or watches are beginning to look for licenses again. So it's healthy.
Which of your brands are performing well?
Fashion brands are doing well and we are finding homes at retail for them, some in mass channels. The sport landscape is flat; it's not where the growth is coming from. And now we're looking further afield. BMW is a great opportunity. I'm very pleased for us and it's going to be a lot of work on a global scale.
You have strong views about direct-to-retail. Is it the answer for brands?
DTR hasn't really moved forward in the way people anticipated two or three years ago. It is not a panacea. Big retailers don't necessarily want exclusivity,
Which brands will you highlight at Brand Licensing Europe 2010?
We'll focus on car brand Mini and the 125-year-old British magazine
. The fashion brand Punky Fish is doing exceptionally well overseas and the show will be an opportunity to remind U.K. partners about it.
How will you position the Mini brand?
Mini is a great British brand. But there are two ways you can look at Britain. It's either about cream teas and bowler hats or it's about leading-edge design. With Mini we're not really going after nostalgia, not The Beatles and Twiggy. We're going to celebrate its modern shape and customer, which is principally female, ages 25 to 35.
How will you grow Performance Brands?
We intend to focus on our heartland of mid-tier fashion. I believe we will also see more co-branding, where it is credible. Then we'll look for new brands and I think the key growth will come from the fast-moving consumer goods sector. It's an area people make more frequent purchases in, it is well supported by the brand owners and consumers trust their FMCG brands to move into other categories. Our research with Tommee Tippee, for example, has revealed that consumers trust the brand to do far more than we thought they did.
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