Delegates gather in London for Brand Licensing Europe’s second Licensing for Retail Day.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

March 7, 2024

5 Min Read
Licensing for Retail Day
Licensing for Retail DayLicensing for Retail Day

Following a successful launch in 2023, Licensing for Retail Day returned to Convene, London, on March 7, welcoming delegates from the world of licensing to showcase the potential of brand extension to retailers looking to take their licensing programs to the next level. 

Retailers were in attendance from the likes of Boots, The Works, John Lewis, Ruggable, Marks & Spencer, Calendar Club, Floral Street, Lidl, Bird & Blend, Joules, New Look, Tesco, Asda, Vanilla Underground, Card Factory, McDonald’s, HMV, DFS, Iceland, Lidl and others. 

After the initial networking breakfast, Laura Freedman-Dagg, head, retail, Global Licensing Group, and Steve Manners, U.K. managing director, head, global marketing, Licensing International, kicked off proceedings with a welcome address. 

Ben Roberts, EMEA content director, License Global, then took to the stage to provide a brand licensing “State of the Nation,” highlighting the markets and trends driving brand licensing this year and into 2025. 

Roberts showcased a snapshot of the video game, food and beverage, fashion and apparel and toys and games markets and explored how retailers can and should utilize what’s trending for their benefit. 

Watch: License Global at Licensing for Retail Day 2024

Retail Consumer Trends 

Related:Minding the Stores: The Partnership of Retail and Licensing

The next session of the conference dove into consumer trends, with Rory Partis, director, U.K. toys and Euro toys, Circana, and Jelena Stosic, strategy director, Kids Industries: The Family Agency, digging into the data behind what can drive a successful licensing program and how fandom is the great leveler when it comes to licensing.  

According to data from Circana, licensing increased to a record market in 2023 of 32%, with growth from many different areas. Pardis highlighted the top themes in toys, driven by licensing content, that have grown strongly over the last few years, including superheroes, manga and anime, space and pro sports, which he described as an “untapped area of the market.” 

Kidult culture took off during the pandemic, when people were confined to their homes, looking for things to occupy their time, and shows no sign of slowing. “Being an adult is hard,” says Pardis. “We asked people, ‘If you buy toys for yourself, why are you doing it?’ 33% of respondents replied, ‘It’s fun, and it’s good for my mental health.’ Toys are a great release for your mental health and it’s such a strong message to get adults and kids playing together.” 

Stosic then delved deeper into the role of fandom in a licensing strategy. “Having the right IP is not the only part of the puzzle,” says Stosic. “Understanding why something is a fandom is equally important.” 

Related:What’s Happening in U.K. Retail?

She highlighted the power of moments and occasions for retailers. She pointed out how parents and families are taking celebrations to new heights by celebrating the “mini achievements” in their child’s life, such as half birthdays, the loss of a child’s first tooth and potty-training milestones, with gifts and rewards. 

“This session created so many opportunities for us to go after,” says Basak Harwood, senior buying manager, Card Factory. “We’re a celebration business, so it’s great to hear that parents are looking for every excuse to celebrate.” 

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Licensing for Retail Day

The Wonder of Play

In the day’s keynote, “100 Years of Inspiring Families through the Wonder of Play,” Caroline Spooner, head, hardlines – UK, Hasbro, and Andy Gosling, head, hardlines, new development – UK, Hasbro, explored Hasbro’s play-centered approach to cross-generational licensing programs.  

The pair showcased some of Hasbro’s core licensing IP that are making waves at the moment due to anniversaries and big-screen movie releases, including “Peppa Pig,” “Transformers,” “Littlest PetShop” and “Furby.” 

“Today has been amazing, we’re so grateful that the industry has supported us on this event,” says Freedman-Dagg. “It’s so important that we continue educating retailers. I’m delighted with the turnout. The audience is made up of 50% retailers, and the other half are licensors, licensees and service providers, so we’ve got the perfect breakdown. 

“We’ve also got delegates from our Retail Mentoring Programme from the likes of The Works, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Asda, Iceland in attendance and several retailers who have done the programme in the past and still want to learn more about licensing, so it’s a really lovely cross-section of the retail landscape.”  

“This is our second year on the Retail Mentoring Programme,” says Harwood. “As a business, we have heavily started investing in kids’ products, and licensed products is an area that we need to be going after. We use the programme and Licensing for Retail Day to educate our buying teams. 

“The content has been absolutely amazing, such good insight as to what is up and coming and what we have heard today supports some of the decisions that we have been making and gives us confidence in what we are doing.” 

World Book Day 

The conference coincided with World Book Day, and delegates were invited to take away books and make a voluntary donation to the World Book Day charity, which changes lives through a love of books and reading. 

This year, World Book Day’s message to children is “Read Your Way,” encouraging everyone to let go of pressure and expectations, giving children the choice – and a chance, to enjoy reading. 

“World Book Day, our charity’s annual celebration of reading for pleasure, offers a huge opportunity for both retailers and licensees to get involved, have fun and raise funds to support our mission to help all children love reading,” says Cassie Chadderton, chief executive officer, World Book Day. “As a tentpole commercial moment across both the dressing up and publishing categories, World Book Day and its well-loved brand are an exciting prospect for collaboration. We look forward to hearing from you.” 

The charity works with partners such as its main sponsor, National Book Tokens, as well as retailers and supermarkets, McDonald’s, Yoto, Tatty Devine, Joanie and Green Gourmet. 

Read more retail licensing news and trends.

Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group launched Licensing for Retail in partnership with industry trade association, Licensing International. 

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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