A Merry Christmas from LicensingSource.net

With many of us already ‘out of office’, and the big day fast approaching, LicensingSource.net would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a wonderful festive break.

We will be taking some time out over the Christmas and New Year period too, returning on Tuesday 4 January 2022 to bring you all the latest news.

We all know that it’s been another challenging year for everyone involved with the licensing industry.

While the ramifications of Covid restrictions continue, there have also been challenges post Brexit, while licensees across all categories and retailers have been battling with shipping challenges, rising freight cost and stock issues.

Despite this, we have been constantly impressed with the industry’s determination, tenacity and positivity. Most people have had their business, (and personal), ups and downs over the past 12 months, but it has been testament to the resilience and true grit of the industry that it has been business as usual as far as possible.

We couldn’t do what we do without the amazing support of everyone in the business, so thank you for your continuous backing throughout the year.

Here’s a round up of some of the most read stories on LicensingSource.net over the past 12 months.

NewKelvyn500x500In January, industry legend Kelvyn Gardner sadly passed away.

Tributes flooded in from licensors, licensees, retailers and agents, paying their respects to Kelvyn Gardner, who many have described as “a true gentleman of the licensing industry”, “a one-off, irreplaceable & unrepeatable”, “insightful and inspiring” and “an industry guru, a friend and a rock god”.

Hugely respected, widely known and much loved by all, Kelvyn was the founder of Asgard Media, long-time managing director of Licensing International UK and active Light Fund committee member.

A special online memorial tribute was held in March, virtually attended by large swathes of the licensing industry who wanted to pay their respects to Kelvyn.

acarley2500x500In February, Andrew Carley was revealed as the new director of global licensing at BBC Studios.

Andrew – who joined BBC Studios as svp sales in 2020 – is responsible for leading a five-year strategic growth plan for BBC Studios’ global licensing business, in partnership with the regional licensing teams.

Of course, he’s no stranger to building successful licensing programmes – he has over 25 years’ experience working in licensing and consumer products and prior to joining BBC Studios, he was evp, global licensing at eOne where he and his team built a successful global licensing programme around shows including Peppa Pig and PJ Masks.

Moving into March, and Abysee Corp confirmed the acquisition of GB eye in a multi-million pound deal.

The move combined Abysse Corp’s global presence with GB eye’s extensive local production, manufacturing expertise and market knowledge, while strengthening the common goal of creating the best fan focused products.

March also saw Waitrose confirm that it would no longer sell children’s magazines containing disposable toys – and children’s magazine publishers were quick to respond. Redan Publishing, Immediate Media and Kennedy Publishing all reacted to the move, saying they all took the sustainability of their businesses and products very seriously.

BLMcommittee500x500In April, the Black Lives Matter licensing community revealed how it was taking shape, with ViacomCBS’ Simta Sawhney, Fashion UK’s Hannah Miles and Ravina Mehta joining Saphia Maxamed as part of the initiative.

Since then, further members have joined the committee including New York-based Shontae Savage who is leading the licensing initiative in the US. Saphia also hosted a successful seminar at Brand Licensing Europe in November, explaining how the movement was growing and how retailers and licensees were beginning to come on board.

Further activity is also being planned for 2022, so watch this space.

As we headed into May, the finalists for the Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards 2021 were revealed, while at retail, Tesco underlined its brand commitment with a wide ranging initiative for The Baby Club.

The Entertainment Retailers Association also confirmed that gaming was officially the most successful entertainment sector of the 21st century. Thanks to the rise of mobile and digital gaming in particular, the retail value of the UK games sector was four-and-a-half times larger in 2020 at €4.43bn than it was in 2000.

WTPQueennew500x500In June, Disney kicked off the 95th birthday celebrations for Winnie the Pooh.

A new 45-second animation – entitled Winnie the Pooh and the Royal Adventure – was created to celebrate Winnie the Pooh’s 95th anniversary, and pays tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, who also turned 95 this year.

The animated tale saw Winnie the Pooh delivering a special gift to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, alongside his friends, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore. The group embark on an adventure that sees them set off on the journey from the Hundred Acre Wood to Windsor Castle.

Also this month, V&A went down the rabbit hole with its new exhibition on Alice in Wonderland – Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser – and accompanying licensed products, while Boohoo Group unveiled the new online branding for Debenhams.com as a digital-first department store.

HMSSILC21500x500The Sustainability in Licensing Conference also enjoyed a second successful year as a virtual event.

Delegates from over 20 countries logged in to hear insights from companies including Tesco, Asda, The Insights Family and Eden Project among others.

And, 2022 will see the event make its in-person debut on 22 June at the Royal Geographical Society, London. The dual-cast event will be hosted both in-person and online via a live-stream, with ticketing options for both physical and virtual attendees.

The one-day conference will act to support the increased demand for knowledge, resources and best practices across retail, licensors, licensees, trade suppliers and more.

The Licensing Awards 2021 finalists were unveiled in July, while Fanatics and NBA also teamed up to launch the first official online store.

FSVGM500x500The heritage sector once again illustrated in August the power it has to come up with innovative collaborations, with the Van Gogh Museum teaming up with Floral Street for its first fragrance, Sunflower Pop.

Licensing Link Europe – the agency which brokered the deal – said that the collaboration is a “fantastic example” of real brand alignment.

Partnerships such as the one with Floral Street also help with the agency’s remit of broadening the audience outside of the Museum itself and attracting new consumers.

RDever500x500There was also sad news in August, however, with the engaging founder of licensing agency, Those Licensing People, Russell Dever passing away having sadly taken his own life after a long battle with depression.

Renowned for his passion in children’s entertainment and content, his affection for the genre led him to found the Leeds-based licensing agency in 2013. Clients he has represented include Sooty, The Magic Roundabout, Roobard & Custard and The Little Prince.

Alongside his licensing business. Russell was also respected in the children’s broadcast industry, having created and produced a number of children’s TV series, including the hit Little Monsters.

Licensing Expo 2021 made its virtual return in August. The show will return to its Las Vegas home for 2022, with Informa Markets confirming an in-person event, plus a theme of location-based experiences.

The show has been dated for 24-26 May, 2022 at the Mandalay Bay, aiming to deliver three days of face to face networking, supported by a robust online offering to enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience.

TomAllen500x500Into September, and The Licensing Awards were back!

The winners of this year’s Licensing Awards were crowned in a glittering ceremony hosted by Tom Allen, with the industry returning to The Great Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London for the first in-person awards event for 18 months.

Welcoming everyone to the event, Jakki Brown, joint md of Max Publishing, which owns and organises The Licensing Awards, commented: “For all of you who have stood by us, be it through deferring your sponsorship, your ticket bookings, showing full loyalty as we moved last year’s events online, we really cannot thank you enough. Our relationships with you have been what has kept us going.”

RobHelenaPOC500x500September also saw a number of high profile appointments within the licensing industry.

These included Rob Hutchins joining Products of Change as editor and community manager, working alongside founder Helena Mansell-Stopher to create must-read content to serve POC’s growing audience and member base.

Gabrielle Sims also joined Hasbro’s UK licensed consumer products team as head of softlines business, while Robyn Cowling was named as head of strategic partnerships at Asgard Media, the company founded by the late Kelvyn Gardner in 1998.

DAvener500x500Into October, and the Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards 2021 returned to the Hilton, Park Lane.

Hosted by Dom Joly, the brand licensing community’s big ‘comeback’ event, was attended by 400 retailers, licensees and brand owners.

Winners included V&A, Natural History Museum, Blueprint Collections, The LEGO Group, Coca-Cola, John Lewis & Partners, Iceland, Joules and Scion among others. Daniel Avener, ceo of MDR Brand Management, was named the Brand Licensing Ambassador 2021, in what has been a strong year of growth for the brand management arm of the legal firm.

Another event making a triumphant return in October was The Light Fund Southern Quiz Night – the only officially organised event for the industry charity in 2021, the popular night raised some £8,000, with over 200 industry executives heading to Lord’s.

Smurf500x500Moving into November, and Brand Licensing Europe made its in-person return to ExCel.

The event was widely praised by the industry, with just some of the feedback including comments like “A huge success”, “quality meetings”, “surpassed all our expectations”, “a positive consistent vibe” and “our most successful show yet”.

The in-person event was followed up by a two-day virtual event on 30 November and 1 December for those who were unable to travel to ExCel. Next year’s show has been dated for 20-22 September at London’s ExCeL.

Apparelwin500x500It was also a high profile turnout for the licensing community at the Progressive Preschool Awards 2021, which returned to The Grosvenor Hotel, London in November.

PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig x Team GB, Redan Publishing, Peter Rabbit, Aykroyd & Sons and Character.com were just some of the licences, retailers and companies walking away as winners.

Always a popular event with the licensing business, the awards was marking its return to an in-person event having had to go virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic.

CHigh500x500December has also proved to be a busy one in the business.

Former Boat Rocker Studios, Fremantle and Warner Bros. executive, Caroline High confirmed the launch of her own consultancy earlier this month, while Primark confirmed that its trading was ‘ahead of expectations’ over the past three months.

US licensed sports retailer, Lids, has also made its debut in the UK, and revealed some ambitious plans for the future, too. The company has revealed plans for four retail locations in London, Essex and Brighton. The first store is open now and is located in Neal Street, Covent Garden and sells officially licensed MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and footwear gear.


As we head into 2022, the licensing team at Max Publishing is looking forward to bringing you even more news, views and interviews from the industry, and we can’t wait to catch up with as many of you as possible at the upcoming toy and gift fairs in January and February.

Wishing all our readers a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, successful 2022!

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