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The retailers to watch in 2017

We look at just some of the retailers upping their licensing activity this year.

They are the gatekeepers to the success of any licensed product, and retail has probably never been more aware of the impact that clever licensing can have, on both their footfall and their sales.

2016 saw some great initiatives, promotions and activity across the board – from the grocers to fashion chains, and stationery specialists through to the value stores.

The year also saw British institution BHS disappear from the high street – only to re-emerge online in September.

And there could be some changes on the high street in 2017, too – the full impact of the Sainsbury’s/Argos acquisition should start to become clearer, while it’s likely that some other retailers will look to up their licensing game.

Based on some of the news stories and activities we’ve witnessed recently, we’ve rounded up just some of the retailers that The Source thinks could see some significant licensing gains in 2017.



The winner of The Radar Award at the Licensing Awards 2016, M&Co certainly came to the fore last year, and expect more licensing activity going forward. New launches include the likes of Dinosaur Roar, LEGO Batman, Peppa Pig, Harry Potter and Guess How Much I Love You among others, while its JCB Kids line continues to be well supported. The team puts an impressive level of in-store support behind its licensed offering, including competitions and window schemes.



The retailer was praised for being a consistent supporter of brands when it picked up the Best Department Store or Mixed Retailer Licensed Brand Execution award at the B&LLAs in April 2016. Its in-store area for Christmas gifting was certainly impressive – including a mix of brands such as Happy Jackson and Kellogg’s Vintage – while it also worked with Sanrio on a cross category offer for Mr Men Little Miss for the first time.



The British lifestyle brand revealed its licensing ambitions in October 2016, with the arrival of Paul Burden as its new head of licensing. Paul was the man responsible for driving the successful licensing programme at Ted Baker, with deals covering the likes of footwear, eyewear, watches, fragrance, bodywear and home accessories. He has now been charged with extending the Joules brand to meet the ‘lifestyle needs’ of its customers, both through existing and new product categories.



When The Source spoke to the Matalan team in summer 2016, their excitement at the expansion of its licensing activities was palpable. Already with a successful Disney business, the retailer has now extended its offer to include other licences such as PAW Patrol, Trolls, Peppa Pig, The Secret Life of Pets, My Little Pony, Tatty Teddy, DC Comics and Pokémon. Expect more in 2017, too, with Matalan’s Kate Callender telling The Source that the retailer wants “to be a destination for character”.



Value retailer B&M saw UK like for likes rising by 7.2% in the three months to December 24, according to its latest figures. Sales rose 20.5%, reaching £741.4 million. Its growth has understandably bought it to the attention of the licensing business, so don’t be surprised to see more properties and products on its shelves throughout 2017.



A nominee for The Radar Award at the Licensing Awards 2016, expect Uniqlo’s licensing activity to further expand in 2017. Not only does its clear, straightforward in-store layout present licences very well – see last year’s Liberty collaboration – but it also has a strong game in promotional events, too. The most recent example of this was for the launch of its apparel line for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – its flagship Oxford Street store hosted a special evening of Star Wars themed entertainment, including live music from NTS radio, Benji B and Novelist.


Card Factory

Another nominee for The Radar Award last year, Card Factory has certainly upped its game in terms of licences carried across its product offering. The chain has also been praised by our Licensing Lookout – Ian Downes from Start Licensing – for its approach to licensed product.

After a stormy year in 2016 – which resulted in the British institution disappearing from the high street to much uproar – the brand returned online in September, initially focusing on homewares. It introduced a children’s character shop in November, carrying brands such as Frozen, My Little Pony, Minnie Mouse and PAW Patrol among others. It’s still early days for the reinvigorated store, obviously, but certainly one to keep an eye on.

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