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Brand Licensing at its Best

Brand Licensing at its Best

The Top 125 Global Licensors (which begins as a special section sponsored by Rainbow), the exclusive annual retail sales ranking of the world's largest licensing companies compiled by License! Global, accounted for more

The Top 125 Global Licensors (which begins as a special section sponsored by Rainbow), the exclusive annual retail sales ranking of the world's largest licensing companies compiled by License! Global, accounted for more than $184 billion in retail sales of licensed products worldwide in 2010, with 47 licensors reporting retail sales of $1 billion or more.

From the No. 1 global licensor, Disney Consumer Products, to No. 125, the U.S. Army, this report reveals not only the overall growth in retail sales of licensed merchandise, but also the popularity of innovative brand extensions and the diverse assortment of products that have evolved well beyond the basics to include new apps, designer apparel collections, co-branding and live events.

Disney Consumer Products reported $28.6 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide in 2010, up from $27.2 billion in 2009. DCP's Toy Story franchise was the most dominant property at retail generating $2.4 billion in sales. DCP believes that Cars 2 will have a similar impact in 2011. But it's not just about kids toys for DCP as the licensor collaborated with various fashion designers for its Alice in Wonderland property, among others, enhancing its image as a lifestyle brand.

Conversely, the U.S. Army, which debuts on the Top 125, exemplifies the diversity of brand licensing. The No. 125 licensor, which reported retail sales of $30 million, boasts 86 licensees with an assortment of products including fashion apparel, footwear, watches, camping equipment and cutlery.

While last year's Top 125 issue featured a cover story about the No. 1 global licensors, this year's issue features Skechers, which is not yet ranked but is shaping a global licensing initiative that will quickly establish the No. 2 footwear company as a major licensor.

This is akin to the story of Saban Brands, which made the list for the first time this year at No. 100 with $145 million in retail sales of licensed merchandise, quite an accomplishment since the company was formed only a year ago. It's likely that Saban Brands will jump significantly in the ranking in 2011.

Marvel Entertainment, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Walt Disney Company, reported retail sales separately from DCP and reinforced that the superhero phenomenon is still growing. Marvel reported worldwide retail sales of licensed merchandise for 2010 of $5.6 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2009, earning the licensor the No. 6 spot.

Iconix Brand Group, which ranked No. 2 with $12 billion in retail sales in 2010, up from $9 billion in 2009, reflects the significance of fashion licensing and DTR programs. Iconix's acquisition of the Peanuts property and the continued success of its DTR programs, international expansion including Iconix China and its joint venture with Madonna, MG Icon and development of the Material Girl brand, all contributed to the increase.

The top ranked non-U.S. headquartered licensor is Rainbow, ranking No. 13 with $3.5 billion in retail sales. The licensor has more than doubled its retail sales of licensed products since 2008. Rainbow is heavily committed to expanding its key franchises: Winx Club, particularly in the U.S. in partnership with Nickelodeon, PopPixie and Huntik as well as the debut of Rainbow Magicland theme park in Rome.

New to the Top 125 Global Licensors this year are: DreamWorks, Electrolux, General Mills, Welch's, Endemol, Big Tent, Suzy's Zoo, Saban Brands, Armored AutoGroup, Magic Box/PPI Worldwide, Shabby Chic, Ludorum, JCB and U.S. Army.

This year, License! Global has also once again expanded its listing of the top licensing agencies to 30, adding several prominent international agencies. IMG ranked as the No 1. brand licensing agency reporting retail sales of $7.1 billion. The summary chart is on page T31.

As you read through this special report, additional stories will grab your attention as will the message of continued growth among the global licensors in 2011 and beyond.

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