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How Eighty Ate is taking a bite out of the food and beverage sector

Officially launched in June this year, dedicated food and drink licensing specialist Eighty Ate is the latest addition to True Purpose Enterprises’ stable of businesses, a sister company to The Point.1888, Spotlight.1888 and Story.1888.

Following a successful Licensing Expo, Janine Richmond, The Point.1888’s head of product and brand, and Bethan Garton, True Purpose Enterprises’ chief commercial officer, talked to LicensingSource.net about their new responsibilities as joint heads of Eighty Ate, exciting opportunities in the F&B space and US and Asian trends that are heading our way.

How was Vegas? And what was the reaction to the news about the formation of Eighty Ate?

Janine: Vegas was fun and exhausting in equal measures, but it was an incredible, incredible trip. The vibe was really optimistic. When you go to these events, it always reminds you of just how wonderful the industry is, and how supportive and open to new ideas people are. We had a chance to network with our UK contacts, but for me, in particular, it was really important to meet with like-minded US agencies. I loved hearing about what they’re doing and exploring opportunities to collaborate. We also made time to visit all the major supermarkets to do some comp shops.

Our news about Eighty Ate went down well, but people weren’t hugely surprised by it, I guess because The Point.1888 is ever-evolving, so it felt like quite a natural move to build on our current successes in the food space.

Did you notice any food trends Stateside that might be coming across the pond?

Janine: Nutrition and affordability seem to be the major things of focus to customers right now. We noticed a lot of keto and protein products on the shelves.

Bethan: The other thing you notice in the US is that shoppers don’t have a lot of choice in most categories. The crisp section, and tea and coffee sections, were about half the size they are here. For US supermarkets it’s more about volume than variety – why have 28 brands of ketchup when only a handful of them are huge sellers? I think it’s something the UK is learning from, post-Covid. It’s a shame because obviously it doesn’t give new, small brands the opportunity to break through. But supply consolidation does make sense.

Can you tell us why Eighty Ate was formed?

Janine: The Point.1888 was already working with some big names in food licensing – Barratt, for example – and we could see first-hand that some of the biggest, most important commercial opportunities were coming through food and beverage channels. And also, looking ahead at retail trends, and talking to retail buyers and hearing from shoppers about what they want, it’s clear that F&B licensing is a burgeoning sector.

Bethan: As Janine says, we were already operating in the food and drink sector under The Point.1888 and had built up a number of case studies, with Leon – taking the brand into John Lewis – and taking River Cottage into kombucha and dairy, and Barratt, of course. So a dedicated agency focusing on food and drink made sense.

Bulk.com has produced a Barratt nutrition range.
Bulk.com has produced a Barratt nutrition range.

How is the company going to operate? What kind of deals will you be concentrating on? And what kind of partners will you looking for?

Bethan: Eighty Ate will be headed up by myself and Janine, with creative marketing support from Story.1888 and expert retail insight from Spotlight.1888. We’ll be adopting the retail-first strategy that we’re known for to give companies a competitive edge, helping food businesses break into new markets and non-food brands enter food and drink categories by creating products that fit existing retail gaps.

Janine: While the majority of our deals for F&B brands will be food and drink-based, we will look beyond those categories if it makes sense for a particular brand. For instance, it might be appropriate for a brand to branch out into tableware and kitchen textiles, so consumers can enjoy the feast that they’ve created using beautiful products. And as Bethan mentioned, we’ll be bringing non-food brands into F&B licensing. One of our most recent partnerships was with Historic Royal Palaces for a special Coronation Gin in a Tin. It was a huge success, being sold into the likes of Waitrose and John Lewis, and is now developing a larger product range and selling to a broader retail base.

Bethan: We are selective in our partnerships in that we don’t want to have our brands compete. It’s about deciding which brands we can take on that allow us to have as many touchpoints across the supermarket as possible.
It’s important to have a really clear plan from the outset. The first thing we do when we connect with a brand is a piece of strategy work for them. We then lock that in, so they know exactly what’s happening strategically, and we know exactly what’s happening. In very rare instances, we’ve done a piece of strategic work for a brand and concluded that they shouldn’t actually risk their brand by taking it into licensing.

Janine: In terms of partnerships, we’re purpose-led – we give at least 11% of our profits to charities – so brands with a purpose are an ideal match. One of our first-ever deals involved bringing together Innocent Drinks and Oliver Bonas for a range of knitted hats, to boost awareness of the Innocent Big Knit campaign and raise money for Age UK.

Bethan: Ideally, we look for brands with a story of some sort. Whether they’re making someone’s life better via a charitable element, or they’re just bringing a bit of joy and a bit of fun into people’s lives, there has to be a reason for us take that brand into another category and for retailers to allocate their shelf space.

Your Barratt partnership has been phenomenally successful. What have been the highlights?

Bethan: Barratt is one of the longest partnerships we’ve had; it’s just been renewed and we’re now in our sixth year. Initially, it was about securing Iceland as a DTR partner, as they had the market share for that category, and then it was about signing licensees to grow the programme across the other categories. So now we’ve got the ice creams, the ice lollies, desserts, and all kinds of soft drinks. We’ve got cupcakes that are in stores at the moment, and wafer biscuits. And there are so many other things in the works – we’ve got Poppets hot chocolate, because that’s also part of the Barratt ‘mother brand’, as are Wham and Blackjack. It’s quite unusual for a brand to have that scope.

We want to partner with experts in each category, like Bulk.com, who have produced a Barratt nutrition range.

EA2Is there still a lot of untapped potential within food and drink when it comes to licensing?

Janine: The breadth of opportunity in the F&B space is huge. With traditional licensing, you’re fishing from a small pond, but with F&B licensing, you’re fishing from a vast ocean. I enjoy working with companies that have never ventured into licensing before. Some are nervous but most are willing to jump in.

Bethan: The F&B space is so vast – you’ve got everything from sandwiches you buy on the go to frozen products that you have to take home and cook, through to impulse buys at the checkout. Then there are restaurants… in fact, that’s one area we’d really like to get into.

Any new partnerships in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

Bethan: We’ve wanted a bubble tea brand for a while, as it’s such a huge trend in Asia, and we’ve just taken on Bubbleology as a client. They’re the UK’s leading bubble tea café chain. They have a great story, which is all about the quality of their bubble teas and the science behind them. They’ve already launched a make-your-own bubble tea kit in Asda and it’s doing phenomenally well. We’re looking forward to expanding on that.

We’ve also just taken on Manomasa tortilla chips, which, like Barratt, are part of the Valeo Foods group. Although it’s a relatively new brand, Manomasa has quickly proved popular, with the core product now sold across Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons garden centres, and we’ll be expanding into meal kits, dips and beyond.

What’s the plan going forward? Will you operate across EMEA or further afield?

We want to build our portfolio for Eighty Ate. We already had an idea of which brands we wanted and our recent trip to the US solidified that. We go to licensing trade shows all over the world and we’ll be attending all the key F&B trade shows as well. Our focus is definitely global.

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