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‘We want to be a destination for character’

We chat to Matalan’s Kate Callender about the retailer’s ambitious plans in the licensing space.

As from September, the options at retail for licensed product are now even greater, with Matalan opening the doors on its new-look Character Shop.

The ambitious retailer already has a successful Disney business – with licences including Disney Classics, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Dumbo, Star Wars, Frozen and The Avengers – but this has now been considerably expanded, with a number of new licences joining the mix. For launch, it will be covering over 30 licences including PAW Patrol, Trolls, Peppa Pig, The Secret Life of Pets, My Little Pony, Tatty Teddy, DC Comics and Pokémon.

All licensed clothing – from tiny baby up to age 16 years – will be offered including layette, apparel, nursery, accessories and footwear. On top of this, there is also a move to work more collaboratively with the homewares team to offer a cohesive range across kitchen and dining, stationery, gifting and toys.

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Special ‘character zones’ in-store will be given the full POS treatment to offer a shop-in-shop feel, while the character branding will also carry through online.

“We want to add excitement and pace change into our customers’ journey throughout the kidswear department and we feel a licensed character shop will offer a new and fun shopping experience,” Kate Callender, childrenswear buyer at Matalan explains.

Kate has bought Disney direct to retail licensed product for over seven years during her time at Matalan, helping to grow the retailer’s reputation within the licensing industry.

“During this time I have seen the licensed consumer goods market evolve,” she comments. “There has been a significant shift in how people perceive licensed product and this has become much more credible, desirable and fashion-led.

“Over the last five years I have seen key UK high street retailers outside of the main grocers expand their licensed offers to complement their own ranges, and this has been very inspiring and they have really played a part in making licensed product much more fashionable.

“At Matalan will feel there is a greater opportunity outside of the Disney DTR to offer licensed product across all divisions and we are working towards a full licensing offer across kids, mens, ladies and home.”

Matalan has ambitions to own the family value retail sector, and Kate and the team believes the new Character Shop can help to complement and strengthen its overall offer for all members of the family. “We want to become a trusted destination and a one-stop-shop for licensed product, as well as promoting a great family shopping experience.”

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All franchises will also be given their own designated space – including POS and floor fixtures – while Matalan will also be helping to bring the product to life with in-store theatre, making the Character Shop easier to locate in-store.

Bespoke marketing campaigns are also part on the plan, and the retailer is excited to be working with Carte Blanche on a promotion to introduce Tiny Tatty Teddy and Tatty Teddy to Matalan. The campaign will support the launch of its new unisex layette and nursery lines, as well as its girls’ nightwear. The campaign will be supported in Matalan’s mailer, along with in-store promotions, online content, competitions and plush giveaways.

The retailer was also keen to back the hotly tipped Trolls brand from DreamWorks around the theatrical release.

Kate continues: “We are looking to support the Trolls release with in-store promotions and mailer adverts. We will look to dedicate promotional space along with supporting FSDUs for the release. The product and the POS is amazingly executed if I say so myself – I think this is really going to stand out in-store as something completely different to what we have seen on current girls licences.”

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Kate is keen to strengthen Matalan’s relationship with all licensors, and also look to promote new licences as well as the established evergreen properties.

“To achieve our goal in becoming a destination for character, we must ensure we offer the customer exactly what licences they want at the right time. The importance to work with our licensees and licensors has never been greater.”

There is definitely a lot of focus on its licensed character ranges at Matalan and you can see the hard work and commitment that has gone into the new shop from the team.

“We are working hard to exceed expectations in both execution of product and sales,” says Kate. “Ultimately we would like to broaden our customer appeal by offering character which is value for money without compromise on quality, and to ensure we back the characters both parents and children love in our aim to become a destination for licensed adult and children’s clothing.

“We hope our customers love the product as much as we do, and it’s on lots of Christmas lists for 2016!”

90 years of Winnie

Matalan has given a ‘nostalgic and premium’ feel to its Winnie the Pooh product range to support the classic character’s 90th birthday. It has also incorporated gifting packaging to help make it extra special.

The collection includes its layette gifting sets along with nursery items such as blankets, a hooded towel, comforter and changing mat.

“Winnie the Pooh is a brand which we really love working with,” explains Kate. “We have planned social media posts in conjunction with Disney to celebrate Winnie’s 90th birthday. “We will also be giving our customers the opportunity to win the full range along with a plush collection.”

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

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