‘It’s a great time to be working in licensing’

We chat to Sambro’s licensing director, Nikki Samuels, about the company’s phenomenal year.

Sambro is a licensee with a lot to shout about at the moment. Its portfolio is filled with some of the top performing properties in the children’s space, it has added a number of new categories to its product mix and the acquisition by private equity company Elysian Capital earlier this year has given it the means for even further growth.

And it’s even positive about Brexit!

“I want Sambro to be recognised as being one of the major players within the licensed toy industry and think in five years’ time, everyone will know our name,” Nikki Samuels, the company’s licensing director, confidently states.

Established in 1997, Sambro has recently widened its product offering to include arts and crafts and a softlines division. Meanwhile, its heartland of novelty and fashion bag ranges, as well as its pocket money toys – all of which span a raft of different licences – continue to be top performers.

“PAW Patrol has done phenomenally well across all categories,” says Nikki. “It has such a massive following and we are working on some brilliant new lines. Frozen continues to be one of our biggest licences too – it’s one of those licences that just keeps getting better and better for us.

“The Trolls film is out towards the end of the year and we expect our arts and crafts range to perform well during Q4. We also have a new Little Tikes arts and crafts range, which is based around the iconic Cozy Coupe and Turtle. It’s a really lovely quality preschool collection and we are really proud of it.”

There are a number of “fantastic” new licences on the cards for 2017, although Nikki isn’t ready to shout about them just yet. However, he did highlight new launches with existing partners including Despicable Me, Pokémon and Star Wars as ones to watch.

“We are always looking for hot new licences and would love nothing more than to build new partnerships as we continue to expand,” he enthuses. “We have added new categories within the company, such as a soft lines division which is opening up even more possibilities and conversations about various licences we haven’t been able to work with before.

sambropp

“I think you will be seeing a lot more products aimed at the older girls market next year,” he hints.

Nikki’s confidence even extends to the subject of Brexit, stating: “At Sambro we have an extremely can-do attitude and will continue to grow the business post-Brexit. We have just moved into new showrooms in Amsterdam and will continue to work with our licensors developing our pan-European ranges, as well as with the rest of the world.”

Nikki is clearly a man who relishes and enjoys his job, and also working in the licensing industry itself. He believes that Sambro stands out from the competition as it can deliver not only high quality product, but is also able to offer licensed ranges across multiple categories and at varying price points.

“From a licensor’s point of view, they are able to deal with one dedicated team across a whole plethora of products and from a retailer’s side, they are able to stock full ranges that are delivered on time and within budget,” he explains.

The reveal of the plans and new licence additions for 2017 and beyond will hopefully be announced shortly, as Nikki is keen to let the industry know that Sambro intends to start the next year as it finished the last, “with lots of exciting new licences”.

Nikki’s upbeat take on the company and the industry at large is refreshing to hear – particularly when much of 2016 seems to have been rather downcast in the wider scheme of things.

“I think licensing is massively important to the UK consumer, whether they realise it or not,” Nikki concludes. “They are influenced by so many licences, be it a new film release or a new boy band, and licensing throws up infinite opportunities for us all.

“The UK has the calibre of licensors and companies working with them to keep delivering successful products at rapid speed, so I think it’s a great time to be working within licensing.”

sambrobag

Planning for growth

In January 2016, Sambro was acquired by private equity company, Elysian Capital, enabling it to further achieve its growth ambitions.

“They have invested a huge amount into Sambro and their input is proving invaluable as we move the business forward in line with our rapid growth plans,” says Nikki. “Our staffing levels have greatly increased and we are investing heavily in marketing and design so our brand teams are hard at work alongside licensors old and new creating exciting products unlike any you will have seen before from Sambro.”

Ken Terry, ceo at Elysian Capital, said after the acquisition was made public: “We were attracted to the high growth delivered by the business, its in-house product design team and partnership approach with brand owners and retailers.

“But most importantly we are backing a passionate team with tremendous ambitions for their business whether that be further organic growth or through acquisitions.”

This feature originally appeared in the autumn edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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