Brand management companies have aggressively expanded their portfolios and represent some the most important growth opportunities in licensing.
Tony Lisanti, Global Editorial Director
Over the past five years, several pure IP brand management companies have been formed and existing ones have expanded, driving significant growth and opportunities worldwide. In fact, this trend has not only brought new life and popularity to several venerable brands in various product categories, but it also represents the most important factor in the continued growth of the brand licensing sector over the past decade.
Furthermore, based on several acquisitions this year to-date and the strategic direction of these companies in the future, this bona fide format will continue to grow.
While management style, business philosophy and brand development may differ among the various companies, the common links are ownership and licensing. These six licensors combined own more than 100 brands and represent more than $25 billion in retail sales, which is about 10 percent of
Top 150 Global Licensors report’s total
Authentic Brands Group–
ABG, which is the exclusive cover story in this issue (see "Authentic Brands Group Builds a Brands Powerhouse"), leads the group of IP companies that were launched over a similar time frame in terms of retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide. With its most recent acquisitions included, ABG now has a portfolio of 27 brands and represents almost $5 billion in retail sales. This puts the company on track to become one of the Top 10 global licensors next year, according to the Top 150 Global Licensors report (published annually in May by
, and possibly Top Five based on the company’s goals for the future.
Iconix Brand Group
–With 37 brands and retail sales of $13 billion, Iconix is the largest and oldest licensor in the sector, ranking No. 4 in 2014 (based on the Top 150). In fact, ABG’s founder and chairman, Jamie Salter, tells
that he credits Iconix and its CEO Neil Cole for pioneering the IP brand management concept when he launched his company in 2005.
Sequential Brands Group
–In June, Sequential announced its latest acquisition, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (although the deal is not yet final). The addition of MSLO will bring the publicly traded company’s portfolio to 15 brands and $3.75 billion in retail sales since it was formed in 2011.
Cherokee Global Brands–
With $2 billion in retail sales and a ranking at No. 29 on the Top 150, publicly traded Cherokee has added several brands over the past few years and now has nine brands in its portfolio.
Last month, Bluestar announced the acquisition of the Limited Too retail brand. Founded in 2007, Bluestar now has a portfolio of 10 consumer brands with more than $1.5 billion in retail sales.
–Since it was created by Haim Saban and Elie Dekel, former president, in 2010, privately held Saban Brands has built a portfolio of 10 brands in entertainment and fashion, with the most recent acquisitions, Australian lifestyle brands Piping Hot and Mambo, earlier this year. Saban currently ranks at No. 66, according to the Top 150 with $850 million in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide.
These brand management companies will continue to grow, not only through acquisition, but also through expansion of their existing portfolios worldwide.
ABG’s Salter believes that his company will double in size by 2018, reaching $10 billion in retail sales. Remarkably, this would make ABG one of the top five global licensors in just eight years.
These brand management licensors not only represent one of the most important trends, but these companies also offer the biggest growth opportunities in brand licensing.
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