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“Creating that relatable connection is absolutely key”

Ahead of next month’s B&LIS, LicensingSource chats to Hunter Price’s Allana Holmes about challenges and opportunities, plus how to engage with Gen Z.

Tell us, who are you and how your business fits into the licensing eco-system?

I’m Allana Holmes and I’ve been working with global brands, licenses and retailers for 17 years to develop meaningful and strategic product partnerships, which connect and engage consumers.

One of my most high-profile projects for this year will be the launch of new home and lifestyle brand, Chapter B, for TV personality, Billie Faiers. I’ve played a key role in bringing this new brand to life at retail, from the initial product development, through to retail and commercial planning.

Hunter Price is a leading product developer and supplier of innovative and design-led consumer products to the UK’s top retailers. We have three core divisions – Home & Lifestyle, Stationery & Craft and Toys & Activity. We have established own brands, such as Toy Mania and Splash Mania and this year we have launched a series of new in-house brands; including wooden role-play toy brand, Little Timbers, and Eco Planet Pals, a collection of plush characters and creatures, which are made from recycled plastic bottles and are new for 2022. We also create a wide variety of retailer own-brand products.

Hunter Price also plays the role of licensee and distribution partner for a series of new, up and coming and global brands including Warner Bros, Cocomelon and the Style Sisters.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the licensing industry right now?

The biggest challenges are logistics, costs and sustainability. We are continuing to face logistical issues around shipping on a daily basis. Coupled with this, rising costs across the board are impacting margins, as we want to remain competitive and offer great value for the retailer and end consumer. And finally, as a business, we have a clear eco and sustainability agenda and we are working really hard with our supply base to develop and innovate in this area. However, there are commercial challenges when developing these products.

On the flipside, there are a number of opportunities opening themselves up to us, including gaps in the market and adding value. Our strategy when working with Billie Faiers was completely different. We worked with her directly with a brand-led approach which has enabled us to have full control over the vision and brand positioning alongside her.

The industry as a whole and our customers continue to want more from their partners and it’s a great opportunity for us to add value. Despite the challenging and competitive retail environment we have invested heavily in terms of talent, to continue to drive innovation across the business. From buying and design, to sales and marketing, we are providing our customers a full 360 support package.

By showcasing our vision, plans and capabilities effectively, we now have some game-changing opportunities with brands and organisations. It’s shown that our approach to develop new brands with licensing opportunities was something the market wanted, and we are able to fulfil that demand.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in your business sector that impact brands and retailers?

Influencer marketing continues to be a growing trend, with more organisations like ours now integrating this firmly within the wider business strategy. Whether you’re using a collaboration, promotional, or brand approach model, like Chapter B, there are so many opportunities and successes to be had if it’s done right.

Eco and sustainability goals and visions are there across the retail landscape and we are making some real headway in this area.

Give us one top tip for engaging with Millennials and Gen Z.

Authenticity and credibility. Your brand or market offering has to connect and engage – on the right platforms, at the right time and with the right product. Creating that relatable connection is absolutely key.

Why are you looking forward to speaking at B&LIS?

I’ll be really proud to talk about how we have evolved as an established licensee, and now licensor, in an incredibly exciting market, by brokering an exclusive partnership with one of the UK’s top influencers and entertainment TV personalities.

What will delegates take away from your session?

Insight into how Hunter Price is breaking and innovating the traditional ‘licensing’ model and taking it to the next level with brand building strategies.

Allana Holmes is director of sales at Hunter Price. She is participating in a panel called Following the Money: How The New Age of Consumers Spends alongside Sian Rider of KidsKnowBest at the European edition of Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, taking place 21 June, at the Royal Geographical Society in London. To find out more, click here.

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