“We’re in a good place at the moment”

The Source talks to Poetic Brands’ md Elliott Matthews about the licensee’s bumper 2018.

Firstly, how have the past 12 months been for Poetic Brands?

We expected and planned for 2018 to be an interesting year, as retail is facing a tough time – with increased focus on margins putting pressure on the supply chain, and the uncertainty of Brexit around the corner. That said we’re trading at about 25% up on plan, which is testament to the brands we work with and our exceptional design team.

What have been some of your big sellers?

Where as in previous years we’ve had one or two massive sellers, this year has been more evenly spread across the portfolio. We’ve had some really nice wins at retail recently that have had some great sell though. NFL continues to perform very well at TU and Pepsi/7up are also performing very well in H&M.


What new licences do you have coming up for the rest of the year?

We’re seeing a lot more events based licensing, films have been successful this year, specifically the Marvel franchise, more and more gaming is coming to the forefront, the release of the next Call of Duty game is going to be huge.

How do you see the future of retail for licensed apparel?

Crystal ball time! There will certainly be consolidation across different businesses and many more retailers looking at DTRs. So, it is up to licensees to offer new and different products and solutions to make us stand out from the crowd.

Are you seeing more business coming from new distribution channels?

The business has changed massively over the last couple of years, as consumer shopping habits have changed more in recent years than in the previous 30. This presents both challenges and opportunities, as – although we are definitely seeing new business from internet distribution channels – the challenge is how to offer everyone some form of exclusivity and differentiate design hand writing for these retailers.

How much has the importance of internet retailers grown for you?

It’s a new and important part of the business, so something we welcome and put a lot of work into. However, we’re careful to still look after our ‘traditional’ retail customers.


Looking into 2019, which brands should we have on our radar?

That’s giving away my secrets!

What type of brands do you think the industry needs more of/less of?

I think that we need to remember that we’re making t-shirts, nightwear, etc, so while we need to look for new and fresh brands, we must not neglect established big-hitters, as that’s what many consumers want.

What is the biggest challenge for licensees such as yourself currently?

My feeling is that there are two main challenges:

  • Brand exclusivity – we tend to do much better with brands that are not double and triple licensed. We much prefer to work with licensors in a strategic way as it helps us to plan where product sits at retail channels – this ensures exclusivity and builds brands at retail that give a longer term return.
  • Compliance – we have two customers, the retailer and the licensor, and protecting both IPs are paramount. In the supply chain, we have to ensure we have compliant, ethically and technically audited factories. We’re very fortunate in this regard, being part of the PDS Group – thus we have our own internal compliance teams to monitor this.

What would you most like to achieve by the end of this year? And slightly longer term, say in five years’ time?

We’re in a good place at the moment – we have just celebrated our 10th anniversary. We started in August 2008 with what we thought was a great idea and have built it into a business with over 200 brands, supplying all tiers of the UK retail landscape.

We are very fortunate to have a great team around us and we’re looking forward to the next ten years. I don’t know how the landscape will change between now and 2028, but I know we’ll be ready for it!

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