The Licensing Q&A… with Martin Withers

We delve into the licensing life of Spearmark’s group commercial director.

Martin Withers,

Group Commercial Director, Spearmark International

My route into the licensing industry went something like this…

A change of scene from the beer industry to toys at Hasbro to save my liver… although the licensing industry was maybe not the best choice regarding that!

How many years in the industry?

14 years and counting.

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

A lawyer – although this changed when I realised how long it took to qualify and sales seemed a better fit.

The deal I am most proud of is…

The Nickelodeon deal that won us the Licensee of the Year for 2016. Always nice to win some silverware, although there is a lot of orange and green on it to be fair.

My most interesting experience in licensing has been…

The chaos of Las Vegas and Licensing Expo. I’ve always come back with something crucial even if may have been gleaned at 4am in Eyecandy.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is…

Never push something you know won’t work at retail even if that means a competitor may take space or you face a shortfall. Relationships based on trust reap dividends in the long run and you always want your category to grow.

If I wasn’t in licensing, I would be…

Doing deals somewhere but never for anything boring.

Who do you admire most in the industry (and why)?

Buyers who pick up the phone and understand that communication always gets you further in driving a successful business. Also, licensors that understand that not all properties are commercial and can focus on the right ones to drive profit for everyone.

In a film of your life, which licensed character would play you?

I always thought Monkey on his pink cloud was pretty cool with a naughty streak that appeals. Although if I was keeping true to my ginger roots, Yosemite Sam fits the bill.

If I could change anything about the industry, it would be…

Sorting out the poor quality product coming out of continental Europe and stopping it coming into the UK. I wouldn’t be allowed to produce some of the products I have seen at retail so consistency would be nice.

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