Licensing International UK Rising Star 2023 Nominees: Oliver Gilding

With the countdown to The Licensing Awards 2023 continuing, finds out more about this year’s UK Rising Star nominees, beginning with Iceland’s exclusive brands manager, Oliver Gilding.

Oliver Gilding, exclusive brands manager, Iceland


My route into licensing went something like this…

Post masters, I applied for the MDS Graduate Scheme, I completed four different placements over a two-year period within the food industry – Syngenta, Maelor Forest Nurseries, Angus Soft Fruits and Iceland. Each role was completely different and included operations and project management, account management and buying. My final placement was at Iceland as a category assistant – after proving myself over the six-month placement I was offered a full-time position as trading manager of exclusive brands which is where I started my journey into licensing.

How long in the industry?

2 years.

When I was growing up, I had no idea that ‘licensing’ was an industry, so I wanted to be…

A zoologist – growing up my hero was Steve Irwin which led me to want to emulate him when I was older. It sounds a little random for a young child, however I was a huge lover of animals and lived very close to an incredible zoo which I visited regularly with my parents.

Biggest inspiration in the licensing industry?

My first inspiration in licensing came through being fascinated by the increased number of collaborations across brands which as a customer you would have never expected… Burberry x Gosha, Omega x Swatch, Damien Hirst x Alexander McQueen and Supreme x Louis Vuitton to name just a few. The disruptive nature of those partnerships took each sector by storm and brought together two contrasting customers, something which I try to emulate within the food collaborations I manage at Iceland.

Best thing about your current role?

The most rewarding and best aspects of my job include being able to work within a fantastic team and with incredible brands, whereby any product idea can be turned into a reality. It is incredibly rewarding walking our stores after the launch of products you have been a part of the development and the sales they drive.

What are you most proud of within your licensing career to date?

Continuing to challenge assumptions and push the boundaries of what’s possible within food licensing and growing Iceland’s exclusive branded portfolio to over £300m in annual sales.

Licensed character you can most identify with (and why)?

Difficult question. I can resonate with Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon – he is tenacious, creative and wasn’t scared to go against the grain in order to follow what he believed in.

What were your first thoughts when you were revealed as a nominee for the UK Rising Star Award?

Very honoured to have been recognised alongside so many other exciting young talents. I am confident that I am only at the start of what will be a long career in retail and specifically licensing. I am committed to continuously challenging myself and expanding my knowledge of the industry and its diverse roles.

The Licensing Awards 2023 takes place on Tuesday 12 September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

Tickets and tables can be reserved quickly and securely online by visiting or by contacting Clare Hollick at Create Events: or +44 (0)1183 340085.

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